After convention, Dems focus on keeping wide margin -- Gazette.Net


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With two months to go before the general election, Maryland’s delegates to the Democratic convention in North Carolina say they’ll be coming back energized for President Barack Obama.

Even with Obama widely expected to sweep Maryland’s 10 electoral votes, a strong showing in the state’s popular vote is important for his second term, said Del. Mary Washington (D-Dist. 43) of Baltimore, one of two dozen state lawmakers and public officials who attended the convention, which ended Thursday night.

The state’s entire delegation included more than 140 people.

“Maryland has a special job,” Washington said. “[Obama] needs a high vote total for an electoral mandate.”

If Obama were to capture the electoral votes but not the popular vote, or win by a small margin, it could diminish his political influence, Washington said. In 2008, the vote totals in key swing states, such as Florida, differed by as few as a few votes per precinct, she added.

Del. Susan C. Lee (D-Dist. 16) of Bethesda said because she wears multiple hats as a lawmaker — she’s a Montgomery County resident, a woman and an Asian-American — she’ll be appealing to each constituency.

“This is an important election for women,” Lee said. “The other side has an agenda that is not pro-woman.”

In the past few weeks, the abortion issue has received particular attention, after U.S. Rep. Todd Akin (R) of Missouri, who is running for a U.S. Senate seat, suggested women who are victims of “legitimate rape” tend not to get pregnant. Vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan (R) later drew fire for referring to rape as a “method of conception” that didn’t change his pro-life stance.

The closing days of a campaign are particularly crucial, Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Dist. 20) of Takoma Park wrote in an email.

“[That’s] when voters are listening and when our outreach to family, friends and neighbors are most meaningful,” she wrote.

Maryland’s Democrats also can help drum up support for the president in neighboring states, said Del. Guy Guzzone (D-Dist. 13) of Columbia, who said he spent the week before the 2008 elections going door to door in Pittsburgh.

“We’ll do whatever it takes,” he said.

But state Republicans maintain an Obama victory is hardly a sure thing. Republican nominee Mitt Romney won his 2002 gubernatorial bid in heavily Democratic Massachusetts, said David Ferguson, executive director of the Maryland Republican Party.

“I would not count Mitt Romney out until Election Day is finished,” Ferguson said.

Republicans expected to win a majority of Maryland counties and would be focusing their efforts on areas with larger populations, such as Prince George’s, Montgomery and Baltimore city, he said.

Washington, who also is an Obama campaign surrogate, said delegates at the convention spoke frequently about how to help each other generate support, and that every caucus meeting stressed the dangers of complacency. She expects much of her time leading up to Nov. 6 will be spent campaigning in Virginia and Pennsylvania.

“We’re going to be outspent, but we can’t be outworked. That’s kind of our mantra,” Washington said.

dleaderman@gazette.net