Looks just like that fellow on the TV

September 17, 2006|By LAURA VOZZELLA

Bob Ehrlich's favorite TV show is The Wire. And on the set of The Wire, it seems that Ehrlich is somebody's favorite governor. An actor from the show - no one's naming names yet - will appear in a campaign radio commercial, Ehrlich spokeswoman Shareese DeLeaver said. That was news to David Simon, creator of the award-winning HBO series, when I asked him about it the other day.

"Nobody showed me a script," he said. "If somebody makes the mistake of trying to suggest we're affiliated with any campaign, I'm going to go bat-[BLEEP] because that's the last thing that I would like to have happen."

Simon doesn't mind if the show's actors play parts in political commercials. Frederick Strother and Maria Broom appeared in a TV spot for Prince George's executive candidate Rushern Baker, as The Washington Post reported last week. They played a married couple, and that was fine by Simon.

"If one of my actors is working in a political commercial, that's fine," he said. "They're actors. They have to work."

But he doesn't want something along the lines of: "I play Jimmy McNulty on The Wire. If you like Jimmy, you'll love Bob Ehrlich.

DeLeaver said the mysterious actor in the Ehrlich campaign (she offered one hint: a Marylander) will appear as himself and express his personal support for Ehrlich. How he refers to The Wire, if at all, was unclear.

"If he says, `I'm so-and-so from The Wire,' that's just part of the resume," Simon said. "I have to be very careful. I don't want to inhibit any individual, whether cast or crew, from being politically active. I just don't want the show being used as a hammer by one of these guys to hit the other guy."

(Simon called back a few hours later to say he'd reached someone involved with producing the spot. He learned the ad did make a reference to The Wire, which he declined to describe. "They're taking it out," he said.)

Baltimore wasn't ruined in a day

If you think The Wire itself comes across like an Ehrlich ad - what with all the images of Baltimore crime and dysfunctional schools - think again, Simon said.

"The problems that we're depicting in our simulated Baltimore have been going on and have been unattended to in any comprehensive way for 40 or 50 years," he said. "The notion that any single politician or any single administration should have blame affixed for what we're trying to discuss here is simplistic and ridiculous. ... You'd have to blame every administration going back to [Theodore] McKeldin and [Marvin] Mandel."

Temps? Temps? What temps?

Rumor has it that John White, who won the Republican primary for Congress in the 3rd District, hired a whole bunch of office temps to work the polls for him on primary day. Walk-around money is legal in Maryland these days. But I've never heard of campaign "Kelly Girls" (or Boys). Is it true?

"We can't comment on anything that's considered campaign strategy," said spokeswoman Alisa Greenwood. "It's considered campaign strategy."

Would she put me in touch with White, an Annapolis businessman, so I could ask him? "He'll give you the same response."

Losing requires the greater skill

Scene from a Baltimore political autobiography:

A city councilman has just won election to the U.S. House of Representatives. He gathers his sons around him to talk about the virtues of losing gracefully.

"Losing is the hardest thing to do, especially for people who have only known winning," he tells them. "But to truly be a good winner, you have to know how to lose. To have the patience, self-control, and forbearance that it takes to be a true winner, you must understand the anguish of losing."

The book? No Free Ride by Kweisi Mfume. The chapter title: "Mr. Mfume Goes to Washington."

Law and order and cookies

Steve Fogleman's campaign for Baltimore state's attorney crumbled, but his campaign fortune cookies could still prove prescient.

The dog vote is up for grabs

In a new TV ad, Michael Steele says he's bracing for the worst kind of political slander: puppy hate.

"Soon your TV will be jammed with negative ads from the Washington crew. Grainy pictures and spooky music saying, `Steele hates puppies' - and worse," Steele says. (Cue mock banner headline.)

"For the record," Steele continues, "I love puppies."

What's Ben Cardin's position on puppies?

"Ben Cardin shares Michael Steele's affinity for puppies," spokesman Oren Shur said. "He does not, however, share Michael Steele's affinity for the Bush agenda. But you won't hear about that in Steele's ads."

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