Ehrlich takes his message on the road

The Political Game

Touring: While traveling the state, the governor and his aides explore strategies to gain support for his agenda.

April 26, 2005|By Andrew A. Green and Sumathi Reddy | Andrew A. Green and Sumathi Reddy,SUN STAFF

AS PROMISED, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s roadshow kicked off shortly after the end of the legislative session, with the governor traveling the state to pitch his message to the people. If last week is any indication, his perpetual tour this summer will make the Grateful Dead look like a bunch of pikers.

On Thursday, he and his entourage swung up to Towson University to talk about the governor's strategy for political persuasion.

Option No. 1, he said, is talk radio, a forum in which he can speak unfiltered to and interact with callers.

Option No. 2, the governor said, is television. Ehrlich turned to his press secretary, Greg Massoni, and asked what made him different from others who have held his job in the past.

"Uh, I'm fat and white?" Massoni said.

No, Ehrlich explained, it's that Massoni has a background in producing television news.

Option No. 3 is to make public appearances, which Ehrlich said allow for direct communication but offer only small audiences.

The last option is newspapers, which the governor said suffer from the pesky interference of reporters, some of whom are honest and fair and some of whom aren't, he said.

Next was a stop at Morgan State University for the Maryland Hip-Hop Summit, a symposium on financial literacy sponsored by hip-hop magnate Russell Simmons and co-hosted by Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele.

With a DJ spinning on the side of the stage, Ehrlich noted that Simmons campaigned for former Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend in 2002. But since then, the governor said, Simmons has found much to like in the administration's criminal justice policies.

Finally, Ehrlich headed to the Walters Art Museum, where he was a presenter at the Maryland Horse Breeders Association's annual awards dinner - and where conversation quickly turned to slot machines.

The governor had previously said he doesn't think slots will pass in an election year, but among the breeders he was more dogged. "I've not given up. I'm a competitor. I'm a fighter, and I love to win," he said.

Duncan uses stem cell issue to criticize possible rivals

A week after The Sun Poll found Marylanders support embryonic stem cell research by a 2-to-1 margin, Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan was out to make political hay in the state's biotechnology industry.

At a stem cell research conference yesterday in Bethesda, Duncan criticized his potential rivals for governor in 2006 for remaining largely silent on a bill that would have provided state funds for embryonic stem cell research.

"Once again during an important debate for our state, Governor Ehrlich stood on the sidelines and let others do the heavy lifting," said Duncan, adding that Ehrlich's influence could have ended the threat of a Senate filibuster that killed the bill.

"Even though Baltimore's Johns Hopkins University has done groundbreaking stem cell research already, the Democratic mayor of that city remained silent on this issue until the very last day of the session, and then only offered tepid support," Duncan said, referring to Mayor Martin O'Malley, who like Duncan has all but declared his candidacy.

Ehrlich said his support for stem cell research hasn't changed since he was co-chairman of a biotechnology caucus in Congress. He dismissed Duncan's remarks as squabbling between gubernatorial wannabes.

O'Malley spokesman Steve Kearney said he might expect such an attack from Ehrlich but not from a "fellow Democrat."

Kearney said O'Malley "strongly supported" the stem cell bill since early in the session.

More Democrats lining up for a shot at Cardin's seat

With Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin set to announce his campaign for Senate today, the list of Democrats who want to replace him is getting longer.

Baltimore Health Commissioner Dr. Peter L. Beilenson and Del. Neil F. Quinter of Howard County both said they're looking at a run in the 3rd District, which includes parts of Baltimore City and Baltimore, Anne Arundel and Howard counties.

They join other potential Democratic candidates, including Sen. Paula C. Hollinger, Dels. Jon S. Cardin (the representative's nephew), Maggie L. McIntosh and Bobby A. Zirkin and Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens.

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