Ehrlich silent on his plans for governor's race

The Political Game

Ambitions: The fourth-term GOP congressman says he hasn't made up his mind, but observers say he's sitting out the next round.

January 23, 2001|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,SUN STAFF

WILL BOBBY RUN?

That's the main question floating around state Republican circles these days.

As in: Will Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. make a run for governor next year?

Nobody can be certain, but it says here that you would be well advised not to bet the ranch, or even a third-of-an-acre lot in Hunt Valley, on Ehrlich running.

For his part, the fourth-term Republican says publicly he won't make up his mind for a couple more months.

But others who have talked to him see little chance Ehrlich will give up his congressional seat to make what would be an uphill bid against any Democratic nominee in this heavily Democratic state, particularly after watching George W. Bush get his head handed to him in Maryland by Al Gore.

"I've known for a while he's not going to run," says one GOP insider.

Whether or not he runs, Ehrlich and his advisers are trying to build his reputation in Maryland political circles.

Ehrlich's top political adviser, Paul Schurick, sent out an e-mail yesterday urging some of the congressman's fans to call a radio talk show to discuss how Ehrlich's power has grown with Bush's election.

Schurick, in his e-mail, reminded folks to make these points if they call in to the radio show:

"The Democratic establishment -- those so dependent on Washington to feed their spending appetites -- would be wise not to mess around with Ehrlich."

And: "Ehrlich's relationship with the Bush Administration (Bush himself, several of his top appointees, staff, et al.) will translate into a substantial, statewide soapbox."

We'll see.

Miller moves to reinforce his Democratic power base

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller seems determined to ensure that no more attempts are made by disaffected senators to unseat him from his powerful post in the State House.

During the first couple weeks of the General Assembly session, Miller has moved in several ways to cement his relationship with the Democratic majority in the Senate.

The moves occurred after Sen. Thomas L. Bromwell of Baltimore County launched, and then quickly aborted, a coup attempt against Miller.

In a handful of cases, Miller has punished senators who it seems were involved in Bromwell's coup.

Sen. Edward J. Kasemeyer, a Democrat representing parts of Baltimore and Howard counties, lost two second-tier posts -- his co-chairmanship of the committee that oversees state regulations and his party title of deputy majority leader.

And Sen. Gloria G. Lawlah of Prince George's County lost her seat as chairwoman of a key budget subcommittee.

At the same time, Miller significantly expanded the number of titles available for ambitious senators in a chamber that has had the same leadership team in place for several years.

Among the winners are Sen. Brian E. Frosh of Montgomery County, who assumes the deputy majority leader's job and will serve as co-chairman of a new committee to study gambling issues.

Miller also gave new responsibilities to several African-American legislators.

Some of the Senate's nine black members have felt Miller slighted them when he handed out assignments over the years. By some accounts, many black senators were at least considering siding with Bromwell in his challenge.

Now a number of them are adding credentials to their political resumes.

Sens. Ralph M. Hughes and Nathaniel Exum, both African-Americans, are co-chairmen of a new committee on substance abuse.

Sen. Delores G. Kelley will take over the regulatory oversight committee, and Sen. Nathaniel J. McFadden will become chairman of the audit oversight committee.

Finally, Miller is moving to stay in better touch with the Senate's Democratic caucus, the group of 34 who essentially keep him in power. For the first time in years, Senate Democrats are meeting regularly to ensure the rank and file are aware of legislative strategy as the 90-day session unfolds.

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