Campaign season in the air, on the air
Freshly confirmed Republican gubernatorial candidate Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. gave his radio talk show listeners a taste this morning of how his campaign may intersect with his hosting duties.
"We don't want this to devolve into a 'We love Bob, we love Martin' segment," Ehrlich said as his WBAL show began at 9 a.m., referring to Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley. He promised robust debate about state policies. However, later in the show, he took a brief call from "Martin from Annapolis," a man who, in a Bill Clintonesque voice, mocked the current governor's solid union support.
Ehrlich hosts the Saturday program with his wife, Kendel Ehrlich. He said he will stay behind the microphone until July, when he officially files his candidacy with the State Board of Elections. He said the station would offer equal time to O'Malley.
Asked whether the governor was interested, spokesman Rick Abbruzzese replied in an email, "It's clear that former Governor Ehrlich and his wife, Kendel, now plan to run their campaign out of the law offices of Womble Caryle and WBAL radio studios. For now, Governor O'Malley is focused on the last few weeks of the legislative session and creating the conditions for economic growth and job creation in our state."
Ehrlich also manages the Baltimore office of North Carolina law firm Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice. He will formally announce his gubernatorial campaign April 7 in Rockville and Halethorpe and said he will give details about his professional plans at that time.
The Republican former governor devoted much of his two-hour show to discussing the Democratic administration's spending plan, which he criticized as a prelude to tax increases next year, and recent state legislation -- a departure from the more national tone his show had taken lately.
He took calls from a few Democrats -- another change -- who challenged him on his distaste for national health care reform. Two Republican lawmakers briefly phoned in with Annapolis updates.
Ehrlich directly addressed several callers' questions about his candidacy. One asked if he considered challenging popular Democratic U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, to which Ehrlich replied, "Yes, briefly." He said he views the governorship as "where the action is" and believes he could make a greater, quicker impact in Annapolis than on Capitol Hill.
Kendel Ehrlich will appear on Richard Sher's Square Off on WMAR-TV tomorrow night.