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County GOP welcomes gubernatorial hopeful

May 11, 2002|BY ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

If 2-year-old Drew Ehrlich had his way, "he'd eat lollipops all day long," his father, Robert, told a gathering of Republicans Friday.

But just as Drew needs to be reined in for his own good, so do Maryland Democrats and their spending habits, Congressman Robert Ehrlich Jr. said.

Ehrlich, a Congressman since 1995, is trying to be the first Republican elected governor in Maryland since Spiro Agnew in 1966. He is widely expected to oppose Democratic Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend in the general election.

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Ehrlich was the featured guest at Friday's Lincoln Day Dinner at the Four Points Sheraton on Dual Highway.

The Lincoln Day Dinner, named for one of America's favorite Republicans, is an annual Washington County Republican Central Committee fund-raiser.

Maryland Republicans holding city, county, state and federal offices were joined at the dinner by West Virginia Del. John Overington, R-Berkeley, and Pennsylvania state Sen. Terry Punt, R-Franklin, who offered "greetings" from their respective states.

Maryland Del. Alfred W. Redmer Jr., R-Baltimore, the state's House minority leader, delivered the keynote address.

After arriving an hour later than scheduled, Ehrlich spoke for about 15 minutes before leaving.

He immediately set out to spark the partisan crowd with a mix of humor and passion. He launched one-liners about his golf game and how "confident Maryland Republican" should be an oxymoron.

When a lone person clapped after Ehrlich described how the state budget had ballooned under a Democratic governor, Ehrlich quipped, "That's not an applause line."

Likening the Democrats' fiscal approach to "a cocktail party that's now over," Ehrlich said the GOP should prepare itself to take control.

"It's easy to yell from the back bench, but we're going to have to run this state ...," he said. "This election is about stopping this arrogant monopoly."

Ehrlich urged the room of Republicans: "Please put aside your personal differences" and "please don't get bogged down in petty politics."

"It might be our last chance to win for a long time," he said.

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