Sarah Palin energizes both parties

Local,Len Lazarick
Sen. John McCain’s choice of Gov. Sarah Palin for vice president has energized not only his Republican base – but Democrats as well.

That includes two Susans from Ellicott City who came out last Saturday morning to a Columbia parking lot to send off three busloads of volunteers to campaign for Barack Obama in Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Susan Little and Susan Maloney were both sporting shirts with the acronym for their fledgling group: “GASP! Gals Against Sarah Palin.”

“It’s frustrating” how the media have lionized Palin, Little said. “She’s just a pretty face.”

Maloney’s shirt explained the name: “A qualified woman in the White House? Yes. Gov. Sarah Palin in the White House … GASP!”

“We are two ‘gals’ who are tired of hearing that Sarah Palin represents the interests of all American women,” explained the Susans on the Web site they started last week.

“We are tired of the media telling us how we think and how we will vote. We are calling all women who do not agree with Sarah Palin’s politics to speak up. We love this country too!”

Click here to go to the Web site.

You go, girl!

Women enthusiastic about Palin were holding house parties all over the nation Saturday night, including one in Ellicott City to which more than 100 had bought tickets.

People are “very, very energized” by the choice of Palin, said Joan Becker, chairwoman of the Howard County GOP. “We can’t keep things stocked” in the McCain-Palin headquarters the county party just opened, Becker said. “People are coming out of the woodwork that haven’t been politically active.

“It’s sad that people don’t like Sarah Palin because she’s pro-life,” Becker said. “She’s middle America. People can relate to her” and how she “rose up through the ranks.”

Sauerbrey back in the fray

Republican Ellen Sauerbrey, the former delegate who almost became governor in 1994, is chairing a Baltimore County fundraiser Oct. 11 for the McCain-Palin ticket at the Timonium Fairgrounds.

“Calling all ‘Hockey Moms’ ... ‘Pit Bulls in Lipstick.’ and men who are not afraid of strong women,” the invitations say.

The estimated $10,000 she hopes to raise will go toward purchasing yard signs and campaign materials, since the national campaign is sending nothing to a blue state like Maryland.

“I’ve got a huge burst of energy” from the Palin selection, Sauerbrey said. She’s also excited about being able to do something political after six years “in a cocoon” at the United Nations and the State Department.

Sauerbrey said she has been hearing from “a lot of new, young women who are really excited about Gov. Palin. We need that young blood.”

“It’s not just that she’s a woman; she’s an accomplished woman,” balancing career and family, she said. “A lot of young women can identify with Sarah Palin.”

Big lie or big mistake?

The pro-slots group For Maryland For Our Future have been running ads and sending news releases claiming, “anti-slots people just proposed $700 million in new taxes.”

At first blush, the claims sound like the big lie. None of the most visible anti-slots spokesmen have advocated new taxes. “It is bad enough that these ads are being paid for [with] millions of Canadian gambling dollars, but the ads are quite simply untrue,” Scott Arcenaux, the senior adviser to Marylanders United Against Slots, wrote in a letter to Gov. Martin O’Malley.

It turns out some Montgomery County lawmakers who oppose slots have been suggesting higher taxes as an alternative.

Undermining their own stand against new gambling, they’d rather go for higher levies on alcohol, sales taxes on more services and even raising income tax rates – just the kind of scary talk the pro-slots people love.

Only one of the slots opponents has suggested anything close to $700 million in new taxes. Del. Luis Simmons reportedly proposed repealing the 1998 cut in the income tax rate to raise $600 million.

What about the $700 million figure itself? The pro-slots folks have inflated the estimate of legislative analysts that the new gambling could raise $660 million for education by 2013. These estimates have not been revised since they were made last fall, even though all other revenue estimates have slid. And they won’t be revised before the election, according to the staff of the Department of Legislative Services.

What was O’Malley’s response to Arceneaux’s letter?  O’Malley told The Examiner he hadn’t seen the letter and he hadn’t heard the ad, so he had no comment, except for this: “Arceneaux needs to get over the Duncan campaign.”

Arceneaux was the campaign manager for former Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan, O’Malley’s erstwhile primary opponent in 2006.

Len Lazarick is the State House bureau chief.

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