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Hundreds come out in support of Ehrlich

October 09, 2006|by KAREN HANNA

HAGERSTOWN - Balloons, T-shirts and stickers all made their pitches for Republican candidates as two television screens broadcast the Washington Redskins game Sunday during a rally for Gov. Robert Ehrlich.

While the Redskins went on to lose to the New York Giants, Ehrlich showed no signs of insecurity about his own campaign.

"We have the ability for the first time in my 48 years to make this a marketplace state," Ehrlich told a crowd during a rally for families at Clarion Hotel in Hagerstown.

According to Paula Lampton, chairwoman of the Washington County Republican Central Committee, the event drew about 400 people. About one-quarter of the participants raised their hands when Ehrlich asked how many were small-business owners.

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During a short speech to the crowd, Ehrlich asked for voters' support of Republican candidates, and he reminded them the Nov. 7 election was just 30 days away.

"Whatever (the issue) happens to be - crime and punishment, higher education - the record has been an outstanding record because we have hired managers who are not afraid to make decisions," Ehrlich said.

Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley is running to unseat Ehrlich, who has served four years as governor.

At the rally, Ehrlich encouraged the crowd to put bumper stickers on their vehicles and show their support for candidates, such as Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, who is running for U.S. Senate. Many local Republican candidates attended the rally, including Dels. Robert A. McKee, R-Washington, Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, and Joseph R. Bartlett, R-Frederick, and state Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, who stood behind Ehrlich on the stage.

Also joining Ehrlich on the stage in the front of the hotel's conference room were his wife, Kendel S. Ehrlich, running mate, Kristen Cox, and Paul Muldowney, who is running to return to the Maryland House of Delegates, where he was elected to the first of two terms in 1978.

According to Lampton, tickets to the event cost $25, but children 12 and younger could attend for free. She said she was not sure how much money the event raised.

"Money wasn't really our object. Our object was to get people out and get them excited and enthusiastic about the election and to see the governor and to hear his message," she said.

Supporters lauded Ehrlich's handling of issues such as the budget and taxes.

"He came out strongly on the marriage issue, which I was happy to see. We think he's good for Maryland, and he's good for business," said April Parrott of Hagerstown, a stay-at-home mother who brought her three children, ages 3 months, 2 and 4, to the rally.

While some children sported face-painting art, and a couple of boys sat briefly to watch the game, not everyone was impressed by the chance to shake the governor's hand for cameras.

For 2-year-old Thomas Reynolds, all of the commotion took place through glazed eyes.

"He's full of milk and cookies, and he's ready for a nap," said Sharon Reynolds, who came to the afternoon rally with her family, including her two sons.

Reynolds, of Smithsburg, said Ehrlich's values resonate with her.

"I think the bottom line is people need to take responsibility for themselves," Reynolds said.

Ehrlich said he has been pleased by the support he has received in Western Maryland.

"It's pretty strong and deep, and it's reflected in the polling, the fundraising and the yard signs," Ehrlich said just before leaving for another campaign stop.

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