We've Got Your Back, Governor, So Do What You Have to Do!
That sentiment, and many variations of it, were often heard during the well- attended recent fund-raiser for State Senator Alex Mooney featuring Governor Bob Ehrlich. Republicans of all stripes know good and well that the task of dragging the Maryland legislature and government towards the center is an enormous job.
Victories, even the smallest ones, are hard fought and not easy to come by. Those who elected him Governor want him to succeed.
Governor Ehrlich does not hide the fact that the culture of big taxes and bigger spending has got to change in Annapolis. This is just the time, it seems, for the government to get its financial house in order and deal with the $2 billion dollar deficit that greeted the Governor upon his arrival in Annapolis.
Luckily for him, his opposition is terribly divided and at each others throats. The slots issue divides them in half. Senate President Mike Miller (D., Charles) called House Speaker Mike Busch (D., Anne Arundel) "timid and gutless". Like their national counterparts, they are a rudderless ship lacking a unifying theme and one recognizable spokesperson.
It seems that ageless Don Schaeffer, currently state comptroller, is mulling over a bid to get his old job back as mayor of Baltimore, thereby displacing Martin O'Malley.
Their new state chairman, Isiah Leggett has his hands full placating all of the big-headed egos and conflicting agendas of his party’s poobahs. And without the Kennedy -Townsend ATM card, Maryland Dems won't have the money to match the Republicans, headed by trucking magnate John Kane.
Also in town Friday night was the distinguished county executive from the Peoples Republic of Montgomery County, Doug Duncan. He was greeted by the Frederick version of the politically dead and dying, Sue Hecht and Mayor Jennifer Dougherty.
A constant critic of Governor Ehrlich, he is no doubt eyeing the 2006 Democratic nomination for Governor.
What his appeal to voter rich Anne Arundel, Baltimore or Harford counties remains unclear. While the big voter registration advantage the Dems have in Maryland makes for an interesting fact, another item should have them worried.
Governor Ehrlich received 14% of the African American vote, up 6 points from Ellen Sauerbrey mark in 1998. He'll work hard to get that number up to over 20%. Should he succeed, it will be tough to knock him off.
Those who oppose Governor Ehrlich are confident that he will be unable to satisfy the conservative members of his party and thereby create a Republican crackup. A thin reed indeed.
Governing from the center, as Governor Ehrlich does, is far better than governing from the left, as has been standard fare in Annapolis. Republicans are interested in party building and expanding their base. They want to see Governor Ehrlich reelected so that they can work on redistricting issues in seven years.
While it is wonderful that assorted Democrats are willing to give Governor Ehrlich free advice, he can manage quite well on his own.
His base cheerfully provides the cover he needs to make the hard choices. He'll do what he has to do to make Maryland a two-party state.