Last August, Gov. Martin O'Malley announced that the Maryland Transit Administration's Purple Line project would use light rail and laid out a (mostly) finalized route for the mass transit link between Montgomery and Prince George's counties.
People in Maryland's Washington suburbs have largely accepted the details of the project as a done deal, and preliminary engineering on the line was expected to begin this summer. The announcement was supposed to end the years-long debate over the proposed transit route from New Carrollton to Bethesda, which can take on a nearly religious tenor at times.
There's one remaining wild card, however. Former Gov. Bob Ehrlich, who is now challenging O'Malley, was lukewarm in his support for the Purple Line when he was governor, at one point delaying the project. His position on the line should be a major issue in Montgomery County, which is expected to be a battleground jurisdiction.
But what is Ehrlich's position? O'Malley thinks he knows. This is how the governor responded to a question Friday from Kojo Nnamdi, the host of WAMU's The Politics Hour:
“To clarify, I believe my predecessor’s position is that he’s not in favor of the Purple Line at all. ... Initially, I think he was tap-dancing around and saying something about the buses and then when he looked at the long-term costs and the operating costs, I think he came off that and is just flat-out opposed the Purple Line.”
If Ehrlich had switched positions on such a contentious issue, it should have earned screaming headlines. And such a hard stance would have angered traditionally Republican-friendly business groups who support the line. Does the former governor, as his opponent says, outright oppose the Purple Line?