Vozzella: Putting their 'Nazi' past behind them
The first time Bob Ehrlich ran for governor, Baltimore political operative Julius Henson called him a Nazi. This time around, Baltimore Sun colleague Laura Vozzella writes, Henson just calls him boss.
Henson, who lost his job as a Democratic campaign mobilizer in 2002 over the Nazi remark, is working as a political consultant to Ehrlich's campaign, Henson and the campaign confirmed this week.
“I'm going to be doing some work for Ehrlich, yes,” Henson said. “I've already begun consulting.”
Vozzella asked Henson how he squared that gig with his comments eight years ago. Back then, Henson told The Washington Post: “Bobby Ehrlich is a Nazi. His record is horrible, atrocious. ... He should be running in Germany in 1942, not Maryland in 2002.” He told the paper that Ehrlich was against “blacks, schools and old people.”
“I did say that, but also, it was in context,” Henson told Vozzella. “The context was, I thought his policies — I disagreed with them and said so. Since that time, if you look at his record, many things — small business — many things I care about in the African-American community, Governor Ehrlich's been pretty right on.”
“To his credit, we had a different public policy view,” Henson said. “It was not personal. He's a big enough man to have me work for him, and I'm a big enough man to work for him.”
Henson had a bad-boy reputation long before the Nazi remark. He shouted down speakers to disrupt an endorsement rally when Martin O'Malley first ran for mayor, and called state Sen. Joan Carter Conway a “pseudo-Negro” because she’d backed O’Malley’s mayoral bid. He forced a candidate for city state's attorney to withdraw from the race after digging up information about alleged extramarital affairs.
Such was Henson’s reputation that the Ehrlich campaign turned him down when he peddled his services to it eight years ago, before the Nazi bit.
“His brand of politics is one we have no interest in,” top Ehrlich aide Paul Schurick said back then.
(After the Ehrlich campaign turned him down in 2002, Henson wound up working to mobilize voters for Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and other Democrats — until his Nazi remark got him canned.)
Ehrlich spokesman Andy Barth said former Governor Ehrlich is letting bygones be bygones.
“Well, sometimes in life, things get said that you later reconsider and change your mind,” Barth said.
Henson said he couldn’t recall if he’d approached Ehrlich or if Ehrlich approached him this time around.
“I'm aware of his work,” Henson said. “He's aware of my work.”