Lt. Gov. Steele, Democrat Perez chosen

The Political Game

Program: Two Marylanders are among 24 selected for the inaugural class of the Aspen Institute-Rodel Fellowships in Public Leadership.

September 13, 2005|By David Nitkin | David Nitkin,SUN STAFF

LT. GOV. Michael S. Steele, a conservative Republican, and Montgomery County Council President Tom Perez, a liberal Democrat, will spend a lot of time together over the next two years.

Steele and Perez are among the 24 promising young political leaders chosen for the inaugural class of the Aspen Institute-Rodel Fellowships in Public Leadership.

Candidates for the fellowship were nominated by business, political and civic leaders and were screened by a 50-member advisory panel that included Democrats Mario Cuomo, Ann Richards and Gary Hart and Republicans Alan Simpson, Jack Kemp and John McCain. The fellows, all between ages 25 and 45, will participate in three weekend seminars and weeklong trips to China and the Middle East.

FOR THE RECORD - The Political Game column in yesterday's editions incorrectly described the Aspen Institute-Rodel Fellowship in Public Leadership. While the fellowship program is aimed at up-and-coming politicians ages 25 to 45, the age range is a preference, not a requirement. Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, who was chosen for the fellowship, is 46.
The Sun regrets the errors.

"We had several criteria - intelligence, thoughtfulness, reputation for civility and the ability to get along with people on the other side of the aisle, and a good likelihood of moving even farther up the political ladder," said Mickey Edwards, a former Republican congressman from Oklahoma and director of the fellowship program, in an e-mail exchange with a reporter. Perez, a potential candidate for attorney general, is one of 12 Democrats chosen; Steele, a probable entrant into the race for U.S. Senate, is one of a dozen Republicans.

"Maryland has always been one of those rare states that produces important political leaders well out of proportion to the state's population," Edwards said. "That one-twelfth of the class would come from a state as relatively small as Maryland is no surprise at all."

Governor shakes up legislative affairs office

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has shaken up his much-criticized legislative affairs office by elevating a top adviser to a newly created position overseeing it.

Ehrlich named Alan Friedman, 54, director of legislative relations, a position that, according to a news release from the governor's office "will include the development and management of the administration's legislative and policy agendas." Friedman had previously worked on juvenile justice, drug treatment and crime issues.

The promotion means Friedman becomes the boss of former Del. Joseph M. Getty, who had been the top policy adviser since 2003 and most recently held the title "policy and legislative director," according to a state government Web site; and of former Del. Kenneth H. Masters, who ran the governor's much-maligned lobbying efforts as chief legislative officer.

Masters has borne some of the criticism for Ehrlich's inability to get several high-profile initiatives through the Assembly, including slot machines. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller once referred to Ehrlich's lobbying team as a "wandering band of gypsies."

Friedman is a former district public defender for Anne Arundel County, where he supervised first lady Kendel Ehrlich, who worked for the office at the time. He is the husband of Karen Hosler, a Sun editorial writer who does not write about state government matters.

Ehrlich administration delaying two nominees

The Ehrlich administration is delaying the formal nomination of two Democrats to the Maryland State Board of Elections, and is questioning whether their selection was in accordance with a new law.

Ehrlich appointments secretary Lawrence J. Hogan told Democratic Party Chairman Terry Lierman last week that the governor would not consider the nominees - former board member Bobbie Sue Mack and Anne Arundel County prosecutor Thomas J. Fleckenstein - without assurances that they represent the consensus pick of the Democratic State Central Committee, which was empowered by the law to pick two of the board's five members.

Democratic Party spokesman Derek Walker called the administration's move a "partisan game" designed to keep the minority party's representatives off the board as long as possible. "They are not entitled to tell us how we do our process," Walker said.

A flap over what role Democrats could play in choosing the two Democrats on the five-member board paralyzed the General Assembly this year, leading to the Senate placing a freeze on hundreds of Ehrlich appointments to other boards.

The Assembly passed a law requiring a role for the Democratic Party in making the selections.

Four cellular phones taken from Steele's state vehicle

Democrats have criticized a public service announcement in which Steele warns cable-television viewers of vehicle theft, calling the ads thinly veiled attempts at self-promotion by a probable candidate for U.S. Senate.

But when Steele's state-issued sport utility vehicle was burglarized in front of his Largo home, those critics were temporarily silenced.

Sometime between 3 p.m. Sept. 4 and 7 a.m. Sept. 5, four cellular phones valued at $100 each were snatched from the 2005 Chevrolet Suburban assigned to the lieutenant governor, according to Greg Shipley, a spokesman for the state police. One phone belonged to the executive department; the other three were state police property. The front passenger window was smashed, and candy bar wrappers were strewn about the vehicle, but no other items were taken, Shipley said.

"There had been no attempt to steal the vehicle or move it," Shipley said.

Sun staff writers Andrew A. Green and Jennifer Skalka contributed to this article.

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