So Long! It's Been Good To Know You
On a warm Sunday afternoon in 1994, the weekend after Fourth of July, at a picnic in White Hall, I met a young man I had known from afar. Having been a good Republican soldier for many years working precincts, carrying literature, meeting and knowing most of my elected officials, this was the first time to meet this delegate, a guy whom I wanted to know, now running for Congress - Bob Ehrlich.
He was sitting arms stretched behind him on a picnic table relaxed and laughing with some of the north Baltimore County faithful, casual and comfortable in his shorts and polo shirt. We talked about my race for House of Delegates in "old District 11" for about 15 minutes.
He spoke with the wisdom of an elected official who had twice won. He then promised to vote for me and to help me financially in my uphill battle. Ten days later a check came from Bob Ehrlich to my fledgling campaign.I never forgot.
In the years since that time I have always worked for Bob Ehrlich's election to public office. Whether it was being drenched with cold rain in the 1996 March primary, or spending the many months of my time preparing and working in this past election, there are no regrets - except this time he lost.
I know of few people who have jobs as complex as governor of the State of Maryland, yet Bob Ehrlich has handled it in a very simple way.shoot straight, be honest, stick to your principles and accept the outcome. These are the signs of a man who is comfortable in his own skin.
The most amazing part of the Ehrlich loss is that his personal popularity was polled above 60% just before Election Day. He is a nice guy and the public knew it. He is honest and loyal to a fault with his friends. He is devoted to his family and everyone who comes in contact with him knows these traits.
Once I was at an event at the Anne Arundel Community College and President Bush asked Governor Ehrlich: "Bob, do you listen to your mother?" Right away Bob Ehrlich replied, "Yes, sir, I do." The president answered, "I still listen to my mother, too."
People see in Bob Ehrlich respect, honor and love of family. In terms of pride and morality, the distance from Arbutus to the Governor's Mansion was non-existent. The governor returned to Mom and Dad's house frequently for Mrs. Ehrlich's home-cooked meals. Why? Because it was home.and that is a part of family. To many he was just Bob, the guy from the townhouse in Timonium with the pretty new-bride who was your congressman.
Last Sunday, Governor Ehrlich's political family gathered at the Timonium Fairgrounds to say thank you. There were over 1,500 people by my count. After a short program, some waited in line more than 90 minutes to shake hands and wish him well in his next endeavor. He was visibly moved and glad to see everyone.
Tears were shed, hands were shaken, and laughter was everywhere. It wasn't a wake. It was a family reunion celebrating the accomplishments of a favorite son, just as proud to count him as a political family member after a heartbreaking loss as they were when celebrating in his many earlier victories.
People have asked what I thought his greatest accomplishments were as governor and what I thought would be his legacy. Each time I give them the same answer. He will be remembered as a governor who would listen, be concerned, give you a straight answer and fulfill his promise as his powers allowed.
What more could a citizen wish in an elected official?
Thank you Governor Ehrlich, you have been a good steward and friend to the citizens of Maryland.