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Ehrlich visits Ag Expo & Fair

July 18, 2010|By DON AINES
  • Former Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich stops and answers questions for Mario Benjamin Jr. of Williamsport, Saturday, during the Washington County Ag Expo & Fair at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center.
Colleen McGrath, Staff Photographer

Former Maryland governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. made two stops in Washington County Saturday, having lunch with fire and rescue personnel and then courting the farm vote at the Washington County Ag Expo & Fair as he tries to reclaim the governor's office this fall.

"Obviously, we're strong in this county and we're strong in this part of the state," Ehrlich said as he pressed the flesh with exhibitors and visitors to the fair and posed with a steer. "I represented ag districts in the legislature, in Congress and ... as governor."

Ehrlich, who served as governor from 2003 to 2007, is vying for the Republican nomination in September against GOP opponent Brian H. Murphy and is eyeing a rematch with Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley in November. Saturday's events in Washington County were among five stops scheduled in three counties, he said.

The message voters are sending to candidates in this election, both in Maryland and nationally, is about taxes and the regulatory environment, Ehrlich said.

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"Small-business people in Maryland are really hurting ... There's a lot of middle-class angst" with people worried about keeping or finding jobs, paying for college and growing their businesses, he said.

Business people are particularly concerned about a regulatory environment that Ehrlich characterized as "what the state is doing to get in my way ... What the state is doing to stop my business from growing."

The former governor also hit on the state budget deficit and high unemployment as issues for the fall campaign.

"Fortunately for us, the other side is mired in negative ads on TV and radio and, as a result, they've lost about 11 points in the polls," Ehrlich said.

Accompanying Ehrlich were two other candidates, state Del. Charles Jenkins of District 3B, which encompasses Frederick County and a portion of Washington County, and Neil Parrott, who is running for an open state delegate seat in District 2B in the southern part of Washington County.

A former Frederick County commissioner, Jenkins said that was "a great training ground" before being appointed to the General Assembly in January. Those elected to serve in Annapolis, he said, can benefit from having firsthand knowledge of the impact sate laws have on local governments.

"They understand how overregulation hurts their families, hurts their businesses and hurts their livelihoods," Parrott said of the farmers and small business people at the Ag Expo.

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