Jim Smith reminds Balto Co voters about Ehrlich snub
In a quote featured on the campaign piece (pictured on the right) Smith blasts O'Malley's Republican challenger, Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr., for a very long snub. "I served with the previous governor who NEVER returned my phone calls during his last three years in office. NOT ONCE!" Smith says on the flier. "Martin O'Malley always calls back."
Smith has said in interviews that the relationship with Ehrlich chilled after a December 2003 news conference where he described Ehrlich's insurance commissioner as "aloof" and accused him of failing to help county residents battle red tape and collect insurance for damage incurred by Hurricane Isabel. (As an aside, that same former commissioner Alfred Redmer just lost a primary for an open Senate seat in Baltimore County.)
O'Malley launched a TV commercial in 2006 with a similar theme, and it was widely viewed as effective, as my colleague Julie Bykowicz wrote in a recent Sun story about Maryland political battlegrounds. Bykowicz noted that 2006 spot also went undisputed by Ehrlich.
On Tuesday after speaking to a group of homebuilders at a DoubleTree hotel in Columbia, the Ehrlich had a slightly different spin and said the two frequently crossed paths. "I saw Jim Smith all the time as County Executive you know," Ehrlich said.
When asked if there was any truth to the claim that Ehrlich failed to communicate with the head one of the state's largest counties, Ehrlich avoided the word "telephone."
"What can I say to that? I saw Jim Smith all the time as County Executive. I saw him all the time. All the time." One example he offered was at Maryland Association of County events.
The door hangers appear to be funded by O'Malley (not Smith who has a vast war chest), but the governor's campaign wouldn't say much about them, declining to answer questions about how many were distributed and which homes were targeted.