Democratic Party Chair has some "friendly" advice for Ehrlich (updated)
For the second day in a row, Maryland Democrats are insisting they have nothing to worry about in next year’s elections. The latest comes from Democratic Party Chair Susan Turnbull, who is circulating a letter to former Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich. (See yesterday's take from O'Malley campaign manager Tom Russell on this blog.)
The political establishment has been waiting for Ehrlich’s decision on whether he’ll challenge incumbent Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley, and Turnbull has some ideas for what he should consider as he holds focus groups and conducts polls to gauge his chances. She suggests several points that pollsters should ask residents about his record on the state budget and taxes. Oh, and she suggests that he remind voters that he supported slot-machine gambling while in office but then opposed the voter referendum last year that expanded gambling in the state. The sarcasm drips. She signs off with "warm regards."
Of course, Republicans have taken O’Malley’s budget policies to task, pointing to repeated writedowns in tax revenue that they contend he failed proactively address. They also have criticized his reliance on federal stimulus dollars, pointing to further budgetary trouble in the years ahead when those dollars run out. And Ehrlich argued that the slots program crafted by the Democrats was “bad policy” and would fuel unrestrained government spending. He also objected to amending the state constitution to allow slots.
UPDATE: Henry Fawell, a spokesman for Ehrlich, responded to our request for a response with an e-mailed statement. “They are giving the meaning to the term ‘paranoid,’” Fawell wrote. “I would encourage them to take the advice Governor O’Malley’s campaign manager gave to fundraisers: Take a deep breath.”
To be sure, the political pundits won’t know for another year whether Turnbull doth protest too much.
To read her letter, click below.
November 12, 2009
Dear Former Governor Ehrlich,
Running for governor is an intensely personal decision for you and your family, and no one – Republicans or Democrats – should fault you for taking the time to consider your prospects in 2010. As you conduct – in your own words – your “objective analysis,” “hold focus groups” and “look at cross-tabs,” I wanted to make sure that you and your pollster ask the right questions on which to base your decision.
For instance, do voters know that:
1. You increased spending by almost 22% in your last two years in office - exceeding the Spending Affordability guidelines?
2. You raised more than $3 billion in hidden taxes, tolls and fees on Maryland families?
3. You raised taxes on income from manufacturing?
4. You raised state property taxes 57%?
5. You raised the corporate filing fees by $188 million during your first three years in office?
These are very important questions that you should ask in your poll – especially since spending levels in the State of Maryland are lower today than they were during your last year in office. No doubt voters will be very interested in your spending record given the state of the national economy.
Voters and opinion leaders are already aware that you were the only incumbent governor in the country to lose re-election in November. Sure it was a bad year for Republicans after six years of George Bush, but you were the only incumbent governor of either party to lose re-election. So, as you prepare your poll and focus groups, I recommend you ask whether you would, yet again:
• Cut funding for K-12 public education, since you failed to fully-fund Thornton while you were in office.
• Roll-back the progress we have made to make college more affordable by increasing college tuition by over 40% again, as you did during your term in office.
• Start raiding Program Open Space dollars instead of making difficult decisions to balance the budget.
• Block any increase in the minimum wage for hard working Marylanders.
Susan W. Turnbull
Chair, Maryland State Democratic Party
P.S. Please also be sure that you ask voters about your flip flop on slots, which you supported for all four years of your Administration as the centerpiece of your budget program, only to oppose in last year’s referendum, which passed with 59% of support from Maryland’s voters.