Former Republican Governor Robert L. Ehrlich made his second… (Baltimore Sun photo by Amy…)
Ask Joseph W. Smith how long he's been waiting for Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. to announce his run for governor, and he answers in a heartbeat.
"About four years," he said, laughing.
He was leaning against his black Chevy Silverado that was towing a trailer with a big sign -"BRING EHRLICH BACK" - and next to that another big sign: "WHAT'S IN YOUR WALLET," with a close-up of Gov. Martin O'Malley picking a few notes out of a billfold.
Smith was parked outside Leon's Triple L Restaurant and Bar on East Drive in the heart of Ehrlich Country - Arbutus - waiting for the Republican former governor's rally to begin at the American Legion post about a mile away. For Ehrlich supporters, however, most of the waiting is over.
"I'm tickled," said Smith, of Rosedale. "I can't wait to get that [expletive] out," he said, referring to O'Malley with a few unprintable words.
After all the waiting, what would be the first things he would want Ehrlich to do as governor?
"Lower my taxes, stop giving my money away and making everybody work for theirs," said Smith, who installs automated building systems for a living.
There's been a bit of excitement lately up and down this street, with its restaurants, dry cleaners, ice cream shop, pit beef stand, and flying over it all at the corner of Sulphur Spring Road and Oregon Avenue an American flag about the size of an NFL end zone.
"It's a big day for Arbutus," said Leon Lineburg, owner of the restaurant, sitting in back of the bar area under an orange neon Budweiser sign and a bumper sticker plastered to the wall: "BRING BACK EHRLICH." A couple of tables over was a box full of Ehrlich campaign T- shirts, and the bar was hung with campaign shirts and bumper stickers.
"It's a big day for Bob and all his supporters," said Lineburg, who opened the place 51 years ago, just after Ehrlich was born. There was a room full of campaign workers with Ehrlich stickers on their shirts, waiting for their man to stop here before the rally.
"He teased us a little" with the timing of the announcement, Lineburg said. "But knowing his parents, saying, 'It's going to come, it's going to come. Keep your mouth shut.' "
That would be Robert Sr. and Nancy, who live just a few blocks away on Dolores Avenue in the house where the former governor grew up, before he went off to Princeton, Annapolis, Washington and back to Annapolis. To the folks gathered at Leon's, Ehrlich is still Arbutus.
Ehrlich campaign aide Chris Cavey was downstairs giving the troops a few pointers on placing signs, and getting ready to make a lot of noise when the contender showed up, fresh from visiting with his parents, who had stopped in for lunch just a few hours before.
"He's one of us," said Brenda Coyne, who was having a soda at the bar. "And there aren't too many politicians, very few anyway, who you can say, 'He's one of us.' … I think he represents the middle class, hard-working, blue-collar, plain, ordinary people you find in the Arbutus area."