Ehrlich to skip delivery room

The Political Game

`Traditionalist': The governor says he'll keep his distance for the arrival of baby No. 2.

October 14, 2003|By David Nitkin | David Nitkin,SUN STAFF

NO NEED to hand Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. a pair of surgical scissors. He won't be using them.

Ehrlich says he has no desire to be in the delivery room when his wife gives birth to the couple's second child in March. He also stayed on the other side of the wall when son Drew, 4, was born.

"I'm more of a traditionalist," the governor said last week, speaking with reporters the morning after he and first lady Kendel S. Ehrlich formally announced they would be parents again.

The first lady said she would not be upset if the governor doesn't make it to the hospital March 16, the due date that occurs deep into the annual General Assembly session.

"The governor will be governing. I will be in very good hands," she said. "He will be there in spirit with me, if he can't be there for the exact time of birth."

Asked if the pregnancy was planned, the Ehrlichs answered simultaneously. She said "Yes." He said "No."

"I was not in on the planning," the governor said.

Kendel Ehrlich, 42, said she had no pregnancy-related health concerns, even though "clearly I'm a little older on the scale of things."

Doctors have told her that physiologically, she has the body of a younger woman. "With all the risk factors taken in, I'm only 37," she said.

The Ehrlichs will not be finding out the gender of the baby before it is born, and they wouldn't disclose the names in contention. But they said they'll follow the same system as for the first pregnancy. If it's a boy, the governor will pick the name; a girl's name will be the selection of the first lady.

The first family seems amazed at the amount of change they've experienced in the past year, from a new job to a new house and now a bigger family. There's discussion of even more: whether to bring a dog into Government House.

Last year, the Ehrlichs said they would get one for Drew as a reward for potty training. That's past now, but still no puppy.

Governor Ehrlich says there are "two schools of thought" in the family about getting a canine. Sounds like the Ehrlich men want one, while the first lady is opposed.

State efficiency panel to hear public comments

It's getting harder to figure out exactly what the Governor's Commission on the Structure and Efficiency of State Government, headed by former Gov. Marvin Mandel, is up to.

Ehrlich promised during the campaign that he would study efficiency in government, with an eye toward saving money. But when he formally appointed the panel in August, both he and Mandel said cost savings were not a priority.

Since then, the commission has held a series of meetings in virtual secrecy. Dates and locations were not announced. An intrepid reporter from Capital News Service dogged Mandel until he learned of the most recent meeting, worked his way inside and was allowed to stay.

Now there are signals that Mandel's goal may be as much about consolidating power as it is finding efficiencies. Ehrlich told a Washington-area homebuilders group recently that Mandel was concerned that state boards and commissions that operate outside the control of the governor could erode gubernatorial authority.

Whatever its aim, the commission has finally scheduled a public hearing. Comments on how to restructure state government will be accepted beginning at 9 a.m. Oct. 23 in the governor's reception room in the State House. Speakers must sign up in advance.

Aide to Steele is first to leave administration

The Ehrlich administration has its first major departure. David Byrd, chief of staff to Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, has left his job. He has no other position lined up, administration sources say.

Steele told a recent Cabinet meeting that Byrd did a good job helping set up his office. Henry Fawell, a spokesman for the governor, said Byrd was going to "pursue other opportunities," but would not provide other details.

Byrd was one of Steele's first hires, and had worked for the Social Security Administration.

Clean-shaven face unveils his entry into Senate race

State Sen. E.J. Pipkin must be serious about his run for U.S. Senate: He shaved off the mustache he has worn for 25 years.

Pipkin's upper lip was red and irritated yesterday, and some people didn't recognize him when he walked into a function room at the Holiday Inn Express in Grasonville for the first of a series of announcements that he was in the race.

Pipkin said he decided to pull out the razor at 7 a.m., when he awoke. "A fresh face for Washington," he told one supporter.

Political consultants typically advise their clients to shave facial hair. A clean lip and jaw appear more trustworthy, they say.

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