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The Tentacle


June 29, 2006

Who's He Going to Choose?

Chris Cavey

The political world in Maryland is about to cross the next milestone in this election year - the filing deadline. This is the date when we will all know "who the players are." The teams will have finally chosen sides and the games in the political playground can officially begin.

This big question, generating the most press, is always who the major gubernatorial candidates will choose for the position of lieutenant governor. This is a fun game for political insiders to play, spending hours postulating and discussing the pros and cons of people they suspect to be in the number two slot.

The press corps enjoys the speculating and analyzing exercises too. They then come to a conclusions on the eventual nominee and are normally way off unless the name is leaked. From that point the candidate is either lauded or trashed. Eventually the news is old and the lieutenant governor candidate is placed on the back burner.

Sad to say; but true.

Mayor Martin O'Malley's choice, Del. Anthony Brown (D., PG) is unknown outside of his legislative district. Test it out. Ask a neighbor. Many will know the mayor by name, but few will recognize Delegate Brown; virtually none will be able to tell you where he resides. The O'Malley/Brown ticket announcement was a long time ago. Poor Delegate Brown is not getting too much ink these days.

Former candidate Doug Duncan's choice for the number two spot, Stuart O. Simms, may be a nice man and very qualified; but wouldn't be recognized in a crowded phone booth. So, he did the next best thing and filed for attorney general after Mr. Duncan withdrew. Joe Curran will tell you it's a good place to hide for a couple of decades.

The reason for this almost invisible position is the 1970 amendment to the Maryland Constitution, which says the lieutenant governor "shall have only the duties delegated to him by the Governor." This makes our lieutenant governor one of the weakest number two spots in the nation.

Many states are like Maryland was prior to the 1867 Maryland Constitution; then the lieutenant governor was also the president of the state Senate. In those states the lieutenant governor would have power - being influential in both political prowess and the shaping of public policy.

Senate president is a very powerful position, just ask current Senate President Mike Miller (D., Calvert/PG), who has reigned for 27 years; the last couple from the Miller Senate Office Building. He understands political power and knows how to wield it. You can bet Senator Miller isn't pushing for that type of constitutional change.

Governor Ehrlich has used his second in command more than any other previous governor. Lt. Gov. Michael Steele has extensively traveled our state. He has visited municipalities, dovetailing local government into the Ehrlich Administration. Mr. Steele has taken minority business enterprise as a cause, watching its success help Maryland's economy grow. He has chaired committees that produced results, a bold new step for a Maryland lieutenant governor.

Governor Ehrlich made an excellent choice in Michael Steele. Part of that proof is the fact that Mr. Steele has matured and flourished in the job. He is one of the most viable and sought after Republican candidates in the United States. You should keep in mind that Governor Ehrlich discovered and recognized these qualities before Mr. Steele was courted on the national scene. This is another testament to Ehrlich's abilities.

Now Governor Ehrlich has to choose a new "number two." This is the subject of speculation. As of today, the announcement is still pending. Names are being floated in the press and over the political grapevine. Will the choice be male or female? Blonde and blue eyed? Attorney or teacher? Where does he or she live? What is their political background? Inquiring minds want to know!

My prediction is that Governor Ehrlich will choose someone who is a good administrator, a self-motivator and well educated. It will be someone who is able to comprehend and accomplish tasks issued by the Governor, while working from an executive management level. Nothing more, nothing less. The position is constitutionally bound to be one that accomplishes the tasks delegated by the chief executive of the State of Maryland.

You should understand.it's not about the second in command. It's about the governor and how well he uses his choice in this position. Prior to Michael Steele, the lieutenant governor needed only to know how to smile and wave at the crowd. This was because no other governor effectively used the office and talents of their lieutenant governor.

There is no doubt Governor Ehrlich will make another wise choice for his running mate; he has a track record of choosing the best people for the tasks at hand. He will choose a person capable of doing the prescribed job and I feel confident this person will make the citizens of Maryland very pleased with job performance, and they too will have a future in the political world either statewide or nationally.

That's why the race is all about the governor - his leadership, his accomplishments and his abilities.



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