Frederick P. Alpern: How come there is so little coverage for judgeships?
Nitkin: Circuit court judges appear on the ballot in Maryland, as do appellate judges up for retention votes. Judicial campaigns are by definition different than those for other races. The races are non-partisan and tend
to be much more low-key, as judges appear to be uncertain just how much
political activity they should undertake at the risk of appearing overly
partisan or tempermental. Those most interested in the races appear to be
lawyers, who appear before the judges and who are usually contributors to their
James Williams, Columbia: What did you make of [Lt. Gov.] Michael Steele's move to publicly publish his responses to the Sun survey as opposed to sending the
responses back to The Sun?
What was the point of The Sun even sending this survey to Steele in
the first place? Does anyone seriously believe The Sun would even give a
fleeting thought to endorsing Steele in November? Hasn't The Sun
[endorsement] editorial in the U.S. Senate race already been written, and it is just waiting
for the Democratic name to fill in the blank space?
Nitkin: The news side for The Sun (for which I work) and the editorial
board are completely separate entities, and I only have second-hand
knowledge of how the editorial endorsement process works. I know that the
board sends questionnaires to all candidates for state and local office in
our circulation area, and in some races invites candidates in for
interviews. The Sun will be endorsing in both the primaries and the general
election. The questionnaire sent to Steele was part of the primary
endorsement process. Knowing what I know of the endorsement process and the
editorial writers, I believe the process will be thorough and deliberative,
and that no one's mind is made up in advance. Just like campaigns matter to
voters, informing them of candidates' views and positions, the editorial
endorsement process matters to editorial writers and the editorial board.
Mike Friedman, Baltimore: On July 30, The Sun ran an article entitled "Della pushes
unity in the 46th". It struck me that Della seemed to care less about
unity and more about stifling new ideas and challengers. Perhaps the
reason the Democrats lost the last election for governor is because the
establishment cares more about keeping their jobs than leading Maryland
into the future.
Don't you think competition in the primaries will result in stronger
candidates that have a better chance of winning the general election? And
at the very least, adding a little youth and vigor to the party couldn't
Nitkin: I won't argue with either of your points: primaries help
candidates hone their views and withstand questions and criticisms, and new
blood in the political process should be encouraged.
Shawn Knowles, Baltimore: With such a crowded Senate race in the 40th [District], is there any
candidate that stands out from the pack?
Nitkin: In District 40 in Baltimore City, incumbent Democratic Sen.
Ralph M. Hughes is retiring, and six Democratic candidates are running in the
primary to replace him. One Republican, Stephen George, has also filed,
and is thus the presumptive GOP nominee.
There are several interesting features about the race. In Maryland,
there are three delegates in the same district as every state senator. In
the 40th District, two incumbent delegates have chosen not to run for
re-election and instead seek Hughes' seat. They are Democrats Salima Siler
Marriott, the head of the city House delegation; and Catherine Pugh, a
former city councilwoman appointed to the delegate seat after the death of
Tony Fulton. Both are proven vote-getters, and visible in the community.
Former city council president and mayoral candidate Lawrence Bell is
also running, attempting a political comeback. The other candidates are
city councilwoman Belinda K. Conaway, Tara Andrews and Timothy Mercer.
With so many candidates, I don't feel comfortable saying that there
is one candidate that stands out.
Anne Welsh, Sudlersville: Is it true that at a recent event in front of hundreds of
people Republican Congressman Wayne Gilchrest gave an endorsement to Queen
Anne's County Commissioner Gene M. Ransom III, a Democrat?
Nitkin: According to a Gilchrest spokeswoman, the congressman spoke favorably
about Ransom at a recent fundraising event for another Queen Anne's County
Commissioner, Michael S. Koval, a Republican. Gilchrest endorsed Koval, but not
Ransom, the spokeswoman said.
Jamie Kelley, Baltimore: Sheila Dixon!?!?! What is going on with the
ethics probe? Why does the media ignore this very, very important piece of news
and make it a non-story?
Nitkin: The state prosecutor's office is investigating city business contracts that involve Utech, a company that employed Dixon's sister. The Sun is monitoring developments. We have reported extensively on Utech and the work it recieved from the city.