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Ehrlich Revamps His Web Site, Mails Fundraising Letter

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

For those keeping tabs on whether former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) plans a political comeback, here are two developments: a revamped Web site and a fundraising letter that calls for bringing "common political sense back to Maryland."

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Neither the Web site nor the letter makes it clear whether Ehrlich plans a rematch with Gov. Martin O'Malley (D), who defeated him in 2006. But Ehrlich is up to something.

The Web site, http://www.bobehrlich.com, features a picture of the former governor with the headline "Maryland's Future."

A "message from Bob" on the site says: "If you're like me, you believe that there's a better path forward for Maryland and America -- a path to economic prosperity, responsive government, and brighter horizons for our children."

In the fundraising letter, dated last month, Ehrlich takes aim at "Maryland's extreme left-wing governor and legislature" and says he wants "to build a war chest to spread this common sense message to Maryland citizens, to help organize voters and to help candidates for public office."

Ehrlich, who co-hosts a radio talk show with his wife, Kendel, on Saturdays on Baltimore's WBAL (1090 AM), does not say whether he is one of the candidates he is trying to help.

The balance of the three-page letter takes O'Malley and Democratic legislators to task over tax increases, plans for use of federal stimulus money and potential bidders' tepid response to the state's slot-machine gambling program.

Ehrlich was one of the biggest slots boosters while in Annapolis but opposed a pro-slots referendum backed by O'Malley on the issue last year.

"The press is reporting that the slot machine proposal, which Martin O'Malley sold to the voters as the answer to our state's fiscal troubles, was so poorly written that it will actually generate hundreds of millions of dollars less than expected," Ehrlich says on the site.

Also on the Web site: a link to an opinion piece by former county executive Douglas M. Duncan (D) of Montgomery, which ran in The Washington Post last month. Duncan, who challenged O'Malley in the 2006 Democratic primary, questions the vision of current state and local leaders.

Henry Fawell, a former Ehrlich spokesman who works at his law firm, Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, said that Ehrlich will make a decision about whether to seek office at some point "down the road."

"He's being a dad and husband first," Fawell said. "And he's enjoying Womble Carlyle. But there continues to be demand for his views."

-- JOHN WAGNER

Leggett Supports Bill To Curb Drunken Driving

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) appealed last week to the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee to support legislation aimed at reducing drunken driving.

In a letter to Del. Joseph F. Vallario Jr. (D-Prince George's), Leggett recounts how the sport-utility vehicle that he and his wife were in was hit last week by a man who had previously pleaded guilty to trying to drive while under the influence of alcohol. Leggett asks Vallario to back legislation that would make locked ignition devices mandatory for convicted drunk drivers.

"Had this driver's sentence included the use of an ignition interlock device, I would perhaps not be writing you this letter today because the crash that I experienced may not have occurred," Leggett said.

Under current law, judges can require that breath-analysis devices be connected to a vehicle's ignition. The driver must be sober to start the car.

Advocates for tougher drunken driving laws asked Leggett to testify at a hearing last week, but he was resting at home, spokesman Patrick Lacefield said.

Leggett and his wife, Catherine, were hit Sunday night when a driver failed to stop at a red light at Sandy Spring Road and Route 29 in Burtonsville, police said. Officers arrested Kendall S. Smith of Wheaton after they said he failed a series of sobriety tests. Court records show that Smith was sentenced to probation in August after pleading guilty to attempting to drive while under the influence of alcohol.

-- ANN E. MARIMOW


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