(CNN) - President Barack Obama heads 19 miles east of the White House Thursday afternoon, to team up at a campaign event with Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley.
The president joins Maryland's Democratic governor, who's running for re-election this year, at a rally at Bowie State University.
O'Malley faces off in November against Republican challenger Robert Ehrlich. In 2002, Ehrlich become the first GOP governor of Maryland since Spiro Agnew, but he was defeated in his 2006 re-election bid by O'Malley, who was mayor of Baltimore at the time.
A recent Washington Post poll indicates that O'Malley leads Ehrlich by 11 points among likely voters. Other recent surveys have suggested O'Malley holds a single digit advantage.
According to the Post poll, Ehrlich is overwhelming winning the Republican vote and holds a wide advantage over O'Malley among independents, but he's not grabbing enough cross-over Democrats, as he did eight years ago.
Democrats greatly outnumber Republicans and independents in Maryland, and the key to an O'Malley victory would be to ensure that Democrats go to the polls. That's the logic behind Obama's event with O'Malley. And the location is no mistake. Bowie State University is the oldest historically black college/university in the state, and it's located in Prince George's County, which has a large African-American population and a heavily Democratic electorate.
While O'Malley supported then Sen. Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries, he became a major backer of Obama during the general election. Obama won two-thirds of the vote in Maryland in the presidential contest.
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