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The Tentacle


March 28, 2003

Success! Governor Ehrlich’s First Legislative Session

John P. Snyder

Time is dwindling on the current legislative session in Annapolis. It will not be long before the pundits and the sore losers give Gov. Robert Ehrlich an "F" for legislative accomplishments.

Au contraire, say I. Just by showing up for work everyday, and throwing a wrench into the works of a fatally liberal legislature, he is effective and powerful.

To be sure, his initial foray into the legalization of slots was somewhat clumsy, and his selection for the Department of Environment was derailed. His version of charter school legislation remains out of reach. But overall, he has stopped Maryland's relentless march toward a socialist utopia, which, no doubt, a Townsend administration would have represented.

While it looks like he can find common ground with Senate President Mike Miller (D., Prince George’s), it’s difficult to see how the Governor can work with House Speaker Mike Busch (D., Anne Arundel), not to mention House democrat leader Kumar Barve (D., Montgomery).

As to Mr. Barve, allow me to digress. Liberals are forever whining about the cynicism and disregard some feel towards public service and the government. Public service is a noble endeavor and all that.

What, then, to make of the appointment received by Mr. Barve’s girlfriend on the Board of Appeals for a tidy $125,000 a year. It is understood that her qualifications were, well, that she was the girlfriend of Del. Kaman Barve . If they break up, does she get to keep the job?

Those who were expecting an abrupt U-turn towards conservative governance were unrealistic in their assessment.

Governor Ehrlich will succeed in the end, but it should be measured in inches, not by miles. Just having the veto power will always make him a player. His job is to separate the moderate Democrats from their Bolshevik comrades on the extreme left, like Sens. Brian Frosh (D., Montgomery) and Ida Ruben (D., Montgomery) and return Maryland to a moderate to conservative mode. Like the rest of the country.

Although Governor Ehrlich has been in office for less than 90 days, one prominent columnist for the Frederick News Post has looked into his crystal ball, or the reflection in his bare pate, and determined that Baltimore's Mayor Martin O'Malley will be the next Governor, as in 2006. According to Carole Arscott, Maryland pollster extraordinare, he is popular in the Baltimore suburbs. His re-election bid is fertile ground for the "Barbara Hoffman effect", so named for former budget guru - State Senator Barbara Hoffman - who was gerrymandered into a senatorial district that has a majority black population. She lost to a popular black delegate. Should a credible African-American candidate for mayor arise to challenge Mr. O'Malley, emphasis on a single candidate, emerge, he , too may suffer a similar fate. And if the Democrats discourage any contenders, no doubt the Republicans will find one and provide sufficient financial backing.

The Governor is just getting warmed up. He'll be fine.



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