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House Speaker Likes O'Malley's Chances Against Ehrlich

By John Wagner and David Snyder
Sunday, February 6, 2005; Page C04

If Maryland's 2006 governor's race were held today, one political pundit said, Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley would probably match up better against Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) than would the other leading Democratic contender, Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan.

That was the assessment of House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) during an hour-long lunch with editors and reporters at The Washington Post. Busch said O'Malley is better known and better connected in several key counties in which Ehrlich performed well in 2002.

"Quite candidly, I think in the general election, that probably right now Martin O'Malley would match up better against [Ehrlich] because I think people in Baltimore County and the northern Anne Arundel County area, Harford County areas have a better knowledge of O'Malley," Busch said.

"I think Doug Duncan, however, is a very capable individual, and the primary will be a very serious challenge between the two of them," Busch continued.

He then returned to the subject of the general election: "The other question is, can Doug Duncan . . . go into Baltimore County, Anne Arundel County and Harford County and sell himself as someone moderate enough from Montgomery County? I mean, those people have always focused on the Baltimore metropolitan area. Montgomery County might as well be in Massachusetts to them."

Massachusetts? Ouch.

Busch also let on that he wouldn't be too keen on a second run by Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, the Democrats' failed 2002 nominee.

"That would be a treat," Busch said sarcastically.

Scouting for an Explanation

At a Thursday event celebrating a new conservation easement in Dorchester County, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. was surrounded by Boy Scouts from the area and waxed sentimental about his "many, many, many" hours at Eagle Scout functions during his days as a congressman and applauded the young men for making the "right choices."

It was all mom and apple pie in the governor's reception room until Ehrlich made some off-script remarks, which caused a few blushes and one long, pregnant pause.

During the obligatory round of thanks and recognition to everyone involved, Ehrlich turned toward Dels. Adelaide C. Eckardt (R-Dorchester) and Jeannie Haddaway (R-Talbot) and said: "It's good to see Addie and Jeannie with their clothes on."

The remark set off a barely perceptible blush on Haddaway's face. She and Eckardt gamely smiled.


After a few long moments, Ehrlich explained that he had joined the two delegates in the annual Polar Bear Plunge, in which hundreds of do-gooders swim in the frigid Chesapeake Bay.

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