They're in the race -- where are they on the issues?

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Over the next seven months, the candidates for virtually every office in Maryland -- from governor to county executive, from U.S. Senate to state senate, from state delegate to county commissioner -- are going to be challenged to support or oppose certain issues.

Center Maryland can't promise to print all of the challenges and responses. But we'll try to keep up with as many of the issues as we can -- particularly the ones we think are important to Maryland's future.

First up: the $1 per pack tobacco tax increase passed in 2007 to fund an expansion of health care in Maryland. Less than 24 hours after former Gov. Robert Ehrlich announced his bid to recapture the State House, Vincent Demarco of the Maryland Citizens' Health Initiative was already issuing a challenge to the leading GOP candidate.

"We ask you to pledge not to seek repeal of the one dollar tobacco tax increase," DeMarco wrote to the former governor, noting Ehrlich's past opposition.

Read the full letter here.

No immediate response from Ehrlich's camp. But if one comes, Center Maryland will print it. And Center Maryland will be sure to highlight issue challenges made to Governor Martin O'Malley, too.
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