Lawmakers in Annapolis head to Utah

The Political Game

Leader: In Salt Lake City, Del. John A. Hurson will become the first Marylander to head the National Conference of State Legislatures.

July 20, 2004|By David Nitkin | David Nitkin,SUN STAFF

SALT LAKE City becomes Annapolis West this week as dozens of Maryland lawmakers arrive in the Utah capital to watch one of their own become leader of a well-regarded national organization.

Del. John A. Hurson, a Montgomery County Democrat and chairman of the Health and Government Operations Committee, is scheduled to be installed Friday as president of the National Conference of State Legislatures, the first Marylander to hold the post.

Hurson, in a statement, called the position a "tremendous honor and exciting opportunity" and said he would concentrate on health-care financing reforms during his tenure.

The weeklong Salt Lake City conference will also offer a chance for Maryland lawmakers to gather in private settings away from reporters.

House Speaker Michael E. Busch is heading a contingent of 47 House members, all but four of them Democrats. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller will also attend, as will 10 other state senators.

The General Assembly has $260,000 in this year's budget to spend on travel to the legislative conference and similar events.

Thanks to Hurson's position, the spring 2005 meeting of NCSL will be in Annapolis.

Steele named panel co-chair in Bush-Cheney campaign

Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele was in Detroit yesterday, where he was formally announced as co-chairman of the National African-American Steering Committee for the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign.

The Motor City visit marked the third Bush campaign appearance in less than a week for Steele, after stops in Miami and Cleveland. The lieutenant governor's increased visibility illustrates his value to a national party toiling to persuade more African-Americans to vote Republican.

"Being a grass-roots guy, from my days as a county chairman [in Prince George's County], I always envisioned building a two-party system in Maryland, and building a two-party system throughout the country," Steele said yesterday in an interview from Michigan.

Steele said he sees his role this year as helping overturn the perception that "Republicans hate blacks."

"Nothing could be further from the truth," he said.

The steering committee was launched a week after Bush endured heavy criticism for declining to meet with National Association for the Advancement of Colored People leaders at their national convention in Philadelphia.

Steele said yesterday that the leadership of the civil rights organization needs to "dampen down its rhetoric," and that the president would have gained little by appearing at the conference.

"There's nothing I can say, George Bush can say, to get them to switch" their votes, Steele said. "That's not who I am talking to. I am talking to the typical African-American entrepreneur, the typical African-American mother looking for a good education for her children."

Sex appeal? Ehrlich's got it, says his wife

Eleven years of marriage have evidently not dimmed the passion between Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and his wife, Kendel.

First came the governor's remarks at the Baltimore Convention Center on the evening of his inauguration, where he told a crowd of thousands that the couple's first overnight stay in the governor's mansion was memorable. "It was a good night, if you know what I mean," Ehrlich said.

Fourteen months later came Joshua, the second baby born to a sitting Maryland governor in 125 years.

And last week, Kendel Ehrlich told WBAL radio listeners that her husband should be included on any list of sexy politicians.

Her comments followed a discussion of the boyish looks of North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, the presumed Democratic vice presidential nominee. Host Bruce Elliott also offered a sarcastic comment on the charisma of another Democrat, saying, "One of the big appeals of Martin O'Malley is that he is this incredibly sexy guy."

Kendel Ehrlich entered the studio as Elliott was talking about the Baltimore mayor. At the station to record a public service announcement, she said she couldn't let the discussion continue without comment.

"I want to make a pitch for my sexy husband, thank you very much," she said, adding "Why is it that the Republicans are never sexy? It's not fair, I tell you."

Elliott had a ready response. Think Dick Cheney, he said.

"Come on, come on. He's not so bad," Kendel replied. "Smart is sexy too, you know."

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