Photo by Michael Hilton on Flickr.

This article was posted as an April Fool’s joke.

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley seized on instability in the small but strategic territory of Columbia today, where local elections could return a controversial leader, who may face indictment, back to power.

Maryland-based construction contractors demanding access to District government projects and to the Fort Totten dump led columns of untagged pickup trucks over the District line this morning. College Park students, also believed to be acting on O’Malley’s orders, have rallied at District polling places to demand a referendum on the territory’s status, chanting “There is no State of Columbia!”

The Marylanders took over several recreation centers and library buildings in Wards 4 and 5, raising purple and black Ravens flags and demanding the territories be “returned” after being illegally “taken” from Maryland in 1801.

Pro-Maryland forces moved as far as DC USA and the Rhode Island Avenue Home Depot by early afternoon. At a press conference, O’Malley justified the move, citing “chaos” in the District and alleged mistreatment of Marylanders. Grievances were not limited to contractor rights. “Sunday church parishioners arriving from Prince George’s County have been pushed out of their traditional parking lands by bike lane fascists,” he claimed.

Embattled District Mayor Vincent Gray asserted there was no pretext for the incursion, and that his administration stopped enforcing parking bans around churches months ago.

O’Malley also promised that no commuters driving into the city would have to face discrimination on the basis of whether they chose to pay at a meter or not, whether they obeyed posted time limits or not, or for leaving parked cars in rush hour restricted lanes.

Tensions remain high as O’Malley appears poised to encroach further into the District from the south, with still greater Maryland forces amassing at Town Centers in Largo, Westphalia, and National Harbor. An analyst with the Coordination Strategy Group (CSG), a defense contractor, said the formations were suspicious. The analyst, Carol Chort, said, “These should be lifeless places. But we’re seeing levels of pedestrian activity at these Town Centers that our models would have never predicted, even under ideal busway conditions.”

Gray’s rivals for power were trying to capitalize on events as they unfolded. Councilmember Jack Evans claimed credit for keeping Maryland forces out of Ward 2, citing the hordes of gentry he had mobilized on 14th Street NW at happy hour to dissuade further incursions with the area’s notorious $14 cocktails.

Meanwhile, fellow rival Muriel Bowser said that while she had no specific comment on the merits of annexation at this tme, she promised residents she would fight hard against applying Maryland’s laxer zoning restrictions and lack of a height limit to occupied Ward 4 territory.

At his press conference, O’Malley brimmed with confidence. “There is no ethnic or linguistic distinction between Marylanders and our District brothers. We will free them from corruption and taxation without representation.” He concluded, “Under my decisive leadership, I am confident we can extend the Green Line all the way to Maryland Live! Casino in Arundel Mills by 2024.”