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Ehrlich Claims Healthy Interest in Malpractice Issue

By John Wagner
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 9, 2004; Page PG10

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) was concerned last month that he was starting to lose his edge in the public relations battle over medical malpractice reform, an e-mail from an upper-level aide suggests.

The e-mail, sent Nov. 11 by Joseph M. Getty, Ehrlich's policy and legislative director, to Republican members of the House of Delegates, expresses dismay about "attempts in the press to portray the governor as no longer interested in the medical malpractice issue."

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Getty cites a couple of examples, including a veterans ceremony at which "the governor was asked by the media why he was no longer involved in [forging] a compromise bill, and wasn't it true that the only movement forward was coming from the speaker's office."

"Please be alert to this misrepresentation and help us in countering it," Getty continued. "The governor is actively engaged, his staff is working full time on this issue. . . . We encourage you to continue to cite the governor's leadership on this issue with your constituents and your local media."

Getty makes several other requests of the Republican lawmakers. Most notably, writing in all capital letters, he asks that they not sign a petition that would allow legislators to convene a special session without Ehrlich's blessing.

House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) initiated the signature collection among members of his chamber last month.

Under the Maryland Constitution, the governor may call the General Assembly to Annapolis for a special session. But lawmakers also may initiate a session if they collect signatures from a majority of members in both the House and Senate.

There has been talk in recent weeks of Busch and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) charging ahead on medical malpractice without Ehrlich. Miller said as recently as this week, however, that he does not believe the governor should be cut out of the process.

Photo Opportunities

Looking for that perfect picture of Ehrlich and his family to hang in your home? The governor's office has just made it easier.

Ehrlich last week unveiled a new "online photo gallery" that allows Internet users to download and print out copies of hundreds of shots featuring Ehrlich, his wife Kendel, and Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele (R) taken at various events around the state.

Visitors to www.govpics.maryland.gov will find a search engine that allows them to navigate the gallery by subject matter, date and events.

"This is an opportunity for folks to experience the great accomplishments that happen in our state on a daily basis," Ehrlich said in a statement announcing the launch of the new gallery. "This gallery expedites the process of obtaining photos and moves our photo operation into the 21st century."

Duncan's Backers

Two prominent members of the arts scene in Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley's city are hosting a fundraiser next week for Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D), a likely Democratic gubernatorial rival to O'Malley in 2006.

Calman J. Zamoiski Jr., former chairman of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and Thomas Segal, president of the Thomas Segal Gallery, say in invitations that they would like to see O'Malley stay at the city's helm.

"He will have our unwavering support and hope he will have yours as well," the invitation says, adding: "We express our enthusiastic support as we ask for yours -- for Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan in his bid to become our next governor."

The minimum contribution for the Tuesday night event, which will feature cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, is $1,000 a person. "We would like to encourage you to give as much as you are able," the invitation says, "up to the legal limit of $4,000 per person."


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