Drive Seeks to Put Spotlight on Ehrlich
Interviewed Friday, Blakely said he believes his most important mandate is to make sure the state's resources are being used in the most efficient manner to get out the governor's message.
"What we want to do is to make sure the citizens of Maryland know the government is going to be well managed and that they have a governor who has taken an interest in that," Blakely said.
A similar goal was the focus of a new initiative forwarded by Ehrlich's budget director last week, asking the heads of state agencies to prioritize spending so that the most money will be directed to programs that meet the governor's goals and campaign promises.
In that effort, cabinet officials and agency directors were asked to prioritize spending on programs that focused on Ehrlich's "five pillars": education, public safety, health and the environment, commerce and fiscal responsibility.
Ehrlich administration officials say the strategic communications initiative and the budget reorganization are not part of a coordinated effort to set the stage for his re-election.
"We are not running for re-election, running a campaign, from inside the State House," press secretary Greg Massoni said. "The governor is performing the function of running the state of Maryland."
But the executive director of the Maryland Democratic Party said that denying the political implications of this plan is disingenuous.
"I don't think there's any question that Ehrlich's public relations arm is going to use every public entity at his disposal to further his public image and work towards his re-election," Josh White said.
Schurick is in Africa and was not available last week to elaborate on the three-page memo. Nevertheless, the memo is quite detailed about its goals.
In part, it is an attempt to make the communications apparatus more efficient. The memo asks for an inventory of cameras, teleprompters, lighting equipment, sound systems and production equipment. And it asks for a list of the staff members in each agency who have experience with marketing, media relations and other related specialties.
But it also describes a dramatic change to the state's promotional activities and appears to center them on the goals of the governor and the governor himself.
"In order to get maximum exposure, the governor has agreed to aggressively increase his availability to appear at agency events in order to gain wider exposure, and thus helping promote state agencies to their constituencies," Schurick wrote.
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