A gun-owners group says Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. hasn't danced with the ones who brung him. So now, they're staying home.Members of Marylanders for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership have been boycotting political fundraisers headlined by administration officials.
"In response to your kind invitation to the 8 November event with Lt. Gov. Steele, we send regrets and our hope that you will not misinterpret our absence," PAC Chairman Jim Norris recently wrote to Sen. Andy Harris, a Republican who represents Baltimore and Harford counties.
"Senator, you have been great on our issues," the letter continues. "Unfortunately an event headlined by anyone from Bob Ehrlich's administration is politically worthless to MPFO. We can't risk having our support of your event be interpreted as approval of inappropriate firearms policies promoted by the administration."
Ehrlich spokeswoman Shareese DeLeaver declined to comment.
Jim Purtilo, who publishes the Maryland gun-rights newsletter Tripwire, said gun owners who supported Ehrlich's election didn't expect him to change state firearms laws.
But Purtilo said they did think the gov would do some "administrative stuff" to loosen restrictions - such as making it easier for Marylanders to get permits to carry handguns.
Does that kind of complaint actually hurt the re-election chances of a Republican governor in a heavily Democratic state? Purtilo thinks so.
"They've transformed gun owners who would have voted single-issue into free agents," he says.
Cops can tolerate one-armed bandits
Hey, Baltimore police. You've just made the biggest gambling bust since Prohibition. What are you gonna do?
Push for slots.
The city police union has concluded that legalized gambling is its best bet for better equipment - even if it takes a budgetary shell game for slots money to turn into new cruisers and bulletproof vests.
"I know that money will be earmarked for education, but the police departments are going to get something," says Lt. Fred Roussey, president of the city's Fraternal Order of Police. "Obviously we don't want to advocate gambling. But if that's the way to save police officers' lives, that's what I'm going to do."
Union members have been handing out T-shirts reading, "Baltimore City Cops for Slots." The shirts bear a cartoon image of House Speaker Michael Busch, the General Assembly's chief slots foe, surrounded by bags of money flying off to Delaware, Pennsylvania and West Virginia and Virginia.
"The one thing people ought to know is, there are 24 different [political] subdivisions and their FOPs," Busch said. "This is the reflection of one group, and it does seem to be an odd thing for a law enforcement agency to be advocating for."
Hail to the chief -- rail at the chief
It's hard to know who's more excited about President Bush's scheduled appearance at a Michael Steele fundraiser later this month - the Republicans rooting for the lieutenant governor's Senate bid, or the Democrats who think the president will be a drag on Steele's campaign.
"We're thrilled he's coming," said Ben Cardin's campaign manager, Ken Morley. "The people of Maryland will have a chance to hear first-hand why Michael Steele is President Bush's choice to support his administration's agenda in the U.S. Senate, an agenda that includes privatizing Social Security, cuts to veterans' health care, huge deficits and a failed policy in Iraq."
But Steele campaign spokesman Leonardo Alcivar said the Nov. 30 luncheon at Ravens Stadium (no corporate ballpark names in this column) will be a plus for the lieutenant governor.
"Any time any candidate has the opportunity to stand beside the president of the United States, it's a proud moment," Alcivar said. "And we are looking forward to the opportunity to help raise very much-needed funding to fight the full onslaught of a Maryland Democratic Party that is more worried than ever before about Marylanders finally having a true choice at the ballot box."
Remember when Kurt Schmoke jumped into the seal pool ...
The room on the second floor of City Hall where the Board of Estimates meets was named the other day for Hyman Pressman, Baltimore's longtime comptroller, who died in 1996.
Among the dignitaries gathered to mark the occasion was Council President Sheila Dixon, who recalled Pressman for this signature saying: "God bless you all real good."
That brought back memories all right - memories of the guy who actually was known for those words, the late, great state comptroller Louis Goldstein.