Here's a kernel of good news from Tuesday’s game changing election in Massachusetts: When Martha Coakley lost a sure bet Democratic seat, former Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich lost his last remaining excuse to stay out of this year’s gubernatorial race.
Bob Ehrlich has repeatedly promised a rematch if the climate shows he can win. Tuesday’s upset in Massachusetts on the heels of GOP gubernatorial victories makes clear the climate favors him, and a Gonzales poll this week says Gov. O’Malley holds a 9-point lead over Gov. Ehrlich with 9 months to go.
So Bob Ehrlich no longer has a credible excuse not to run, and that's great news for O'Malley supporters because there is a key difference between Mr. Ehrlich and the recent Republican winners: Unlike them, Bob Ehrlich has a cold, hard record in the office he hopes to reclaim, and candidate Ehrlich can’t hide from Governor Ehrlich’s record of tax hikes, out-of-control spending, and corruption.
Go Tell the Tea Partyers
Less than ninety days into his term, on the heels of a campaign against raising taxes, Mr. Ehrlich proposed a slew of tax hikes, including a 57% property tax increase. The next year he enacted a full menu of tax increases.
His final budget made spending history, as the conservative National Taxpayers Union noted:
Ehrlich’s Latest Budget: Going for the Record
On January 17, 2006, Governor Ehrlich proposed the largest increase in state spending in at least 25 years. Governor Ehrlich touts "Fiscal Responsibility" as one of the "Five Pillars" of the Ehrlich-Steele Administration, but his record 12 percent budget increase would likely make his predecessor (derisively referred to as "Spendening") blush.
Mr. Ehrlich will have a hard time blaming his spending record on legislative Democrats since they exercised their power to scale back his bloated budget.
At least one tea party activist recognizes Mr. Ehrlich's hypocrisy:
"At the Wednesday Tea Party rally in Annapolis, Bob was there but declined to speak. I had hoped he would so we could boo him."
Will tea party leaders and the lavishly funded Washington right wing advocacy groups behind them discard their credibility by knowingly embracing Bob Ehrlich and his record contradicting their stated agenda?
Mr. Ehrlich’s fiscal record offends his conservative base, but his corruption offends everyone...
Maryland's Most Corrupt Administration Since Spiro Agnew
Never mind the shady business of Mr. Ehrlich’s wife landing a job with Comcast after he was assigned to a Congressional committee regulating telecoms, a job she continued to hold through her husband’s gubernatorial term until it was abruptly terminated when he lost his re-election bid; and never mind the shady business of Mr. Ehrlich’s best friend and campaign fundraiser David Hamilton cashing in on his brilliant legal mind while Mr. Ehrlich was governor.
These stories speak for themselves (click for links):
Dishonorable Mention: The Philadelphia Busing and Fake Ballot Ploy
In the most bizarre, dishonest, racially insulting and just plain cruel political ploy in recent memory, on Election Day 2006, Mr. Ehrlich’s and Mr. Steele’s campaigns filled 6 buses with indigent men recruited from a Philadelphia program for ex-offenders on the promise of 3 square meals and $100 each, delivered them to Maryland where the governor’s wife and political partner, Kendel Ehrlich, gave them a pre-dawn pep talk and then sent into predominantly African American precincts to pose as campaign volunteers handing out flyers suggesting popular African American Democrats endorsed Mr. Steele and Mr. Ehrlich. Authority lines indicated both Mr. Steele and Mr. Ehrlich approved the flyers.
Of course the plan backfired, as many of the shanghaied men refused to hand out the flyers, the targeted voters were more bemused than angered at the stupidity of the ploy, and the prominent community leaders and elected officials referenced in the flyers denounced the whole affair.
In one singularly stupid act, Mr. Ehrlich, Mr. Steele, and their entire team shamelessly exploited indigent ex-convicts trying to put their lives back together, insulted their own constituents, and effectively stole endorsements from prominent Marylanders who opposed their election, at least one of whom warned them ahead of time not to use his name and likeness in this manner.
This act alone should disqualify Mr. Ehrlich or Mr. Steele from ever seeking elected office again, because, after all, who in their right mind would vote for a politician capable of such stupidity.- Steve Lebowitz, Annapolis