Athletes show support for Ehrlich's campaign

Attendees at fund-raiser include trio of Ravens

October 22, 2002|By Tim Craig | Tim Craig,SUN STAFF

Republican Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. held his own Super Bowl of political events last night as more than three dozen current and former athletes endorsed his candidacy for governor.

Ehrlich appeared awe-struck as the athletes took the stage at a fund-raiser, giving his campaign a financial and emotional boost.

"After a lot of thought, I just feel Ehrlich is the best man for the job," said figure skater Dorothy Hamill, who won a gold medal at the 1976 Olympics and lives in Baltimore.

About 750 people paid at least $125 -- but children younger than 12 got in free -- to attend the "Athletes for Ehrlich" event at Martin's West, which was expected to raise $75,000. Children and their parents crowded around the athletes, snapping photographs and getting autographs.

The biggest draw appeared to be a Ravens trio of place-kicker Matt Stover, tight end Todd Heap and tackle Edwin Mulitalo. Several current and former Redskins were there as well.

"I just wanted to be here to show who I am voting for," said Heap, 22, signing autographs.

The stage was also full of old-timers, including former Baltimore Colts Art Donovan, Mike Curtis and Toni Linhart.

Former Baltimore Orioles included Brooks Robinson, Tippy Martinez and Paul Blair.

"We wanted to celebrate the diversity of Maryland," Ehrlich said when he addressed the crowd. "We have Redskins and Ravens and jockeys and ice skaters. We have Orioles and Colts coming out for Ehrlich-Steele for governor."

Ehrlich presented a plaque to Sandy Unitas, the widow of Colts great Johnny Unitas, who died of a heart attack Sept. 11. Unitas had been scheduled to attend the event.

The event had some lighter moments as well.

Ehrlich, who played football at Princeton University, looked to running mate Michael S. Steele and said, "The man beside me is not an athlete." Steele grabbed the microphone and replied, "Let me set the record straight. [In high school] I played soccer and fencing."

Even the Democratic campaign for Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend was throwing around sports lingo yesterday. Her campaign issued a statement praising the athletes, but bashing Ehrlich's record.

"Try as they might, these greats can't hide the fact that in Congress that Bob Ehrlich batted clean-up for Team Gingrich, was a perennial all-star for corporate polluters and should be a first-ballot inductee in the NRA Hall of Fame," said Townsend spokesman Len Foxwell.

Also yesterday, the Maryland Classified Employees Association, which represents about 15,000 state workers, announced it is endorsing Ehrlich.

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