Ehrlich selects aide for Cabinet

Longtime friend Aumann to be secretary of state

`Dedicated, ... loyal to Bob'

Appointee, 42, worked as congressional assistant

January 03, 2003|By David Nitkin | David Nitkin,SUN STAFF

Gov.-elect Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has chosen longtime friend and congressional aide R. Karl Aumann to serve as secretary of state, with a formal announcement of the administration's second Cabinet-level appointment coming as early as today.

Aumann, 42, is a Timonium resident and lawyer who has worked as Ehrlich's chief administrator and director of Baltimore-area district offices for eight years. Aumann's wife, Susan, was elected to the House of Delegates in November from the 42nd District in Baltimore County.

"I guess the surprise is we were able to keep it quiet so long," Aumann said in an interview yesterday. "I'm delighted and honored."

The secretary of state, who must be confirmed by the state Senate, manages a patchwork of responsibilities including registering charities; overseeing condominiums and time-shares; administering prisoner extraditions and pardons; and publishing the state's regulatory code.

Aumann said he was interested in heading the Governor's Subcabinet for International Affairs, created by Gov. Parris N. Glendening in November 2001 to coordinate international protocol and logistics for state agencies doing business abroad.

In tapping Aumann, Ehrlich continues a tradition of entrusting the position to a close political adviser. Aumann would replace John T. Willis, a Harvard Law School graduate and historian who was Glendening's chief of staff in the Prince George's County executive's office.

As secretary of state, Willis -- who lost a Democratic primary challenge to Comptroller William Donald Schaefer in September -- attracted the most attention for his role in overseeing Glendening's legislative redistricting proposals. Aumann would not get such an opportunity, because Maryland's next redistricting won't occur until after the 2010 Census.

Aumann is "a dedicated guy, and loyal to Bob," said Del. Alfred W. Redmer Jr., the House minority leader from Perry Hall, who said he is familiar with Aumann through constituent affairs. The aide has been a regular stand-in for Ehrlich at district events that the congressman couldn't attend, Redmer said.

"I bet he's been to 2,000 Eagle Scout ceremonies in the past few years," Redmer said of Aumann.

Ehrlich aides declined to acknowledge the appointment yesterday, continuing a policy they have followed for weeks, even as names -- such as state police Superintendent-designee Edward T. Norris -- have dribbled out.

Ehrlich's office did announce five executive-office selections yesterday:

Larry J. Hogan Jr. will be the administration's appointments secretary, making recommendations to fill vacancies in courts and on boards and commissions. He is president of the Hogan Group, an Annapolis real estate company, and is former director of the Suburban Maryland Building Industry Association. His father is a former Prince George's County executive and U.S. congressman, and a half-brother, Patrick N. Hogan, is a newly elected member of the House of Delegates from Frederick.

Mary Beth Carozza and Edward McDonald were named deputy chiefs of staff to Ehrlich. Carozza most recently worked as a deputy assistant secretary of defense, and was a longtime chief of staff to Rep. David L. Hobson, an Ohio Republican. McDonald is a Maryland native and was chief of staff to Rep. Howard Coble, a North Carolina Republican, from 1988 to last year.

David Byrd will serve as Steele's chief of staff. Since January last year, Byrd worked as associate commissioner for the Office of External Affairs with the Social Security Administration. He also has been with the New Jersey Department of State, the Republican National Committee and other federal agencies.

Paul Ellington, former executive director of the Maryland Republican Party when Steele was party chairman, will be the lieutenant governor's deputy chief of staff. Ellington served on the Bowie City Council.

In a statement, Ehrlich called the appointees "seasoned professionals with very diverse backgrounds."

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