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Ehrlich visit to county raises funds for campaign

June 12, 2004|By TAMELA BAKER

It's an election year to be sure, although Robert Ehrlich's name won't be on the ballot this November.

Nevertheless, the governor was at Fountain Head Country Club Friday night thanking the Republican Party faithful - and a few unfaithful Democrats - for their support for his next campaign. In politics, it seems, one never can start too early.

And their support was substantial - Friday's fund-raiser added more than $115,000 to Ehrlich's 2006 campaign chest, according to organizer Howard "Blackie" Bowen.

Bowen speculated that the six-figure total might be "the largest fund-raiser of this kind in Washington County history."

"In this county, over 70 percent of those voting (in the last gubernatorial election) voted for Bob Ehrlich. So he knows we love him," Bowen said. "And with what we've raised tonight, he knows we love him. Now Governor, don't forget Washington County."

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Not that he's likely to - in a traditionally Democratic state, Washington County now has nearly 4,500 more Republicans than Democrats, according to the latest figures from the county elections board.

And many of the county's Republican elected officials were on hand Friday, including most of the county's delegation to the General Assembly.

"I want to thank your delegation for staying tough, staying disciplined and staying on message," Ehrlich told the more than 200 people in attendance. Reflecting on his 17 months in office, Ehrlich said "we're trying to protect your pocketbooks; we're trying to protect your wallets. We're trying to change the mind-set in Annapolis."

His administration, he said, has attracted "talented people" from private industry to "participate in a new kind of administration" - one that is particularly friendly to business.

Business had been suffering of late from a sort of "Patty Hearst" syndrome, Ehrlich said.

"The business community has been too long identifying with their captors." Now, he said, "we're daring the business community to support business candidates."

He acknowledged his polices have produced their share of criticism.

"The (Washington) Post and the (Baltimore) Sun are not really happy, which is a pretty good barometer for us," he quipped.

"We're breaking eggs and we're hurting feelings, and we need to."

But the Ehrlich administration also is about winning, he said.

"Everybody wants to win, but not everybody is willing to pay the price," he said. "We're going to win big in 2006, and hopefully six years from now (Lt. Gov.) Mike Steele will be the next governor."

And those Ehrlich bumper stickers? They don't really peel off very easily, he confessed. Nonetheless, "those bumper stickers do increase the value of your automobile," he claimed.

Ironically, that's something he and adversary House Speaker Mike Busch, D-Anne Arundel, almost agree on.

During an appearance last month at the Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner for county Democrats, Busch attacked the governor for doubling the state's vehicle registration fees and concluded that "I have to laugh when I see all these SUVs with Ehrlich bumper stickers. Those are the most expensive bumper stickers in the country."

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