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In an election fueled by passionate incumbents hoping to increase confidence in government and either reshape or maintain America’s political landscape, Maryland’s Democrats prevailed.

An estimated 60 percent of registered voters came out to reelect Martin O’Malley as governor, Barbara Mikulski as senator and six democratic members to the house, confirming Maryland as a blue state.

O’Malley maintained at least a 10 percent lead over Republican challenger Robert Ehrlich throughout election night and eventually won by more than 200,000 votes.

Mid-term elections around the country told a different story. Democrats won only eight of the 37 governor’s races and Republicans, snatched six seats in the Senate and gained control of the House. But an onlooker couldn’t tell that Congress was steadily shifting to the right from the excitement at O’Malley’s election night party in Baltimore’s Visionary Art Museum Nov. 2.

Music built anticipation for the already exuberant crowd of O’Malley supporters. Amid a ring of applause and a standing ovation, O’Malley gave a speech honoring Maryland’s “resilience.”

“Today, in the toughest of times against some of the greatest adversity our country’s seen in a good long time, the people of Maryland once again decided that together we must move forward,” he said.

Noting his above average job creation, preservation of the Chesapeake Bay and affordable college tuition rates, he added that Maryland is still digging out of the “deep hole the economy has driven us into.”

“What this comes down to, is putting aside partisanship and making this turn into a new economy that creates better opportunities for our children. And I want to say to all of you, that I will always listen, I will always work with you, I will always be on your side and I will make every decision in these tough days ahead based on what’s best for all of us, and the future that our children will share, because I still believe,” said O’Malley.

Voters also kept feisty Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski in Congress. At the celebration, she gave a heartfelt thanks to voters and her staff for allowing a Polish American, whose grandparents weren’t allowed to vote, to maintain another six years in the Senate.

“And it’s all because of you …Thank you. Thank you,” she said, adding she will “work her earrings off” to ensure a safety net for seniors and keep jobs in America.

Mikulski took 61 percent of the vote to defeat Republican challenger Eric Wargotz.

Across the state, voters said yes to slots in Arundel Mills Mall and most elected to require judges of Baltimore City’s Orphan Court to have law degrees.

The defeated challenger for the office of governor, Robert L. Ehrlich hinted to supporters in Timonium that this was his last race, “This closes a chapter in our life,” he said.

When asked why voters remained loyal to Democrats despite the anti-incumbent climate across the nation, several Marylanders said because they still believe in liberal values. “Fundamentally I feel that the Democratic Party most closely appropriates my point of view and value system in terms of social justice and personal responsibility. At the end of the day, I believe in those values,” said Tracy Ward, publisher of Urbanite Magazine. She celebrated O’Malley’s win at his election night party.

Others praised Democratic support of minority businesses and social policies for African Americans. Yet, many still expressed dissatisfaction with the overall political climate.

Michael Howard, a 47-year-old Charles Village resident, said he hasn’t had a job with health benefits since Jan. 2009. “I’m frustrated because I never thought at this point in my life I would be in this position, but I still have faith and I know that if it weren’t for the president and the congress, it would be a lot worse,” he said.

He added that the pressure is now on for left-wingers. “The party of no will become the party of now what?” he said. “They have the ball right now and they are going to have to produce. I wonder if they are going to give Republicans as much time as the tea partiers gave the Democrats.”

Ward says despite her unhappiness about the Republican take-over in congress, she thinks a healthy dialogue between the parties will foster stability in the nation. “I’m encouraged that there will be changes in Washington … I’m very much a democratic supporter but I’m not a party line voter on the issues … I feel a certain tension between the White House and Congress is a good thing. And I believe in change at a fundamental level … and honestly, I don’t care if it comes from Democrats or Republicans.”


Shernay Williams

Special to the AFRO