Watching as `one team goes in and another goes out'

In the crowd

Inauguration Of Martin O'malley

January 18, 2007

Oronde Short from Woodlawn, a volunteer for Martin O'Malley's campaign, had watched previous inaugurations on television and thought the shivering people who gathered outside the State House to cheer were crazy.

But there he was yesterday, one of hundreds braving 30-degree temperatures to attend the O'Malley festivities. "This year," he said, "I wanted to be one of them."

Anna and Ramon Ruiz of Silver Spring similarly said they felt it was important to wait an extra half-hour in a receiving line to be able to shake O'Malley's hand. "When your spirits are high, the weather is not a factor," Ramon Ruiz said.

People who had roles both monumental and fleeting in O'Malley's life gathered in the capital, including the dance instructors who taught him to salsa early in his career as an elected official.

Carole Weinberg and Buddy Hash, who call themselves "the gypsy dancers," remembered how they got O'Malley into dancing shape for an event after his mayoral inauguration at the Latin Palace in Baltimore in 1999. They were among the first to arrive at the State House for the inauguration.

"We're Democrats. We love him," Weinberg said. "I'm sure he'll live up to my expectations, and hopefully beyond."

Former Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, who made a bid for U.S. Senate last year, said he looked forward to holding O'Malley's administration accountable and would offer his expertise on economic development, education and criminal justice - if O'Malley would listen.

"This is what I love about this process in Maryland and America; you can have a transition like this where one team goes in and another goes out," Steele said. "Of course, you don't want to be on the losing side of that equation, but you pick yourself up and help in any way you can."

Steele said his short-term goal is to find a job. He said he plans to make an announcement in the coming days about a private-sector opportunity, but he wouldn't give more details. He added that he will stay involved in politics, possibly by helping a Republican presidential campaign.

Steele had a front-row seat yesterday with other members of the outgoing administration, including former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., first lady Kendel Ehrlich, and Chief of Staff James C. "Chip" DiPaula. Despite their disappointment at losing a run for re-election, for the most part they put on happy faces.

During the campaign, Ehrlich liked to make fun of O'Malley's fondness for lofty rhetoric. Yesterday Ehrlich and his comrades exchanged some wry glances and whispered commentary back and forth as the new governor provided a discourse on how Marylanders are "united in our understanding that there is a unity to spirit and to matter, and that what we chose to do in our own lifetimes does in fact matter."

The Ehrlich crowd also smiled when former state Attorney General Stephen H. Sachs noted that Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown is the first black person the Democratic Party nominated for statewide office. Four years ago, the Republicans nominated Steele, the first black person to hold the post.

Kendel Ehrlich said she is adjusting to the mundane details of private life - such as driving on her own, instead of being driven everywhere. "It's like riding a bicycle, as it turns out," she said.

Robert Ehrlich said he was saddened that some of his work over the past four years will be undone by the new administration. He said he was invited to sit on the dais but declined. "I respect tradition, and this is his day," Ehrlich said of O'Malley. "We're sitting here, as we should be."

But not for a minute longer than necessary. The moment the program ended, the former governor leaned over to DiPaula and said, "Chip, beeline."

And they made one, leaving as fast as they could weave through the crowd.

Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown's brother Christopher, who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., near where they grew up with their immigrant parents in Long Island, was not surprised to find himself in the Annapolis State House yesterday to watch his brother be sworn into office. Nor was another brother, Laurence, who came from Switzerland to watch the event.

"Anthony has always been a leader. He's in his element," Christopher Brown said, his brother Laurence nodding. "He's been saying since he was 6 years old that he would be the first black president."

So is a presidential bid in Brown's future? The Brown brothers seem to think it's possible. But they said the U.S. Senate may be his next stop.

The day's festivities were filled with music. A series of choirs from around the state provided the pre-inaugural music, including the Walt Whitman High School Chamber Choir, from Bethesda, chosen for its rendition of the "Irish Blessing" in honor of O'Malley's Irish heritage. When O'Malley took the stage on the State House steps, the 229th Army Band played Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man."

Christina Carlucci of Queen Anne's County opened the ceremonies with "The Star Spangled Banner," and Sherry Lynne Hunt of Baltimore brought it to a close with a spiritual.

O'Malley, a sometime singer in a Celtic band, had his own fans in the crowd. Anne-Lynn Gross, a Frederick resident, wore a green button depicting a bare-armed O'Malley performing.

Like other Marylanders, Eddie B. Tombs IV has watched O'Malley's political star take off. Only Tombs has done it from behind a camera. The freelance photographer, who recently graduated from Maryland Institute College of Art, first photographed O'Malley when he was inaugurated as Baltimore's mayor in 1999 after sending a letter to the young politician's campaign. At the time, Tombs was 15.

Yesterday Tombs, now 22, was at the State House to photograph O'Malley taking another oath.

"He seemed like he had clear ideas about what he wanted to do for Baltimore City, and I think he's going to be great as governor," Tombs said. "And who knows where he may go in the future?"

Sun reporters Laura Smitherman, Andrew A. Green and Justin Fenton contributed to this article.

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