Gov.-elect Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. yesterday named 40 advisers who will help him get his new Republican administration up and running -- a list that includes at least a dozen Democrats.
Among the Democrats who have agreed to assist Ehrlich are two people who once dreamed about moving to the governor's mansion themselves: former Prince George's County executive Wayne K. Curry and Montgomery County businessman Ray Schoenke.
Another prominent area Democrat who has promised to lend a hand is C. Anthony Muse, the Oxon Hill minister and former state delegate who ran a failed campaign to succeed Curry as county executive this year.
In an interview, Ehrlich professed not to know how many Democrats have signed up to advise him. "I don't care," he said. "There's one criteria here: Are you with our program?"
Ehrlich said he planned to name two dozen or so more people to his burgeoning transition team next week as he cobbles together a GOP-led state government for the first time since Spiro T. Agnew's brief tenure from 1967 to 1968.
The transition advisers have been assigned various tasks, from drafting a budget proposal to inspecting state agencies, Ehrlich said.
He said he wants Curry to share his knowledge about government programs designed to encourage minority entrepreneurs. But Curry's presence is also designed to boost Ehrlich's standing among black voters.
"It's one of the worst-kept secrets in Maryland politics that we're friends," Ehrlich said. He revealed that he began wooing Curry the Saturday after the election, taking him to a football game at Princeton University, the governor-elect's alma mater.
He shrugged when asked if Curry might take a permanent job in his administration. "He's a hot number; he's a really hot number," Ehrlich said. "We haven't talked about it, but Wayne's in a position to do anything he wants to do."
Curry's future has been a subject of idle speculation for months. He was forced out of office this week by term limits, after serving eight years as the top elected official in Prince George's. He did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Muse also did not return phone calls.
Schoenke is an insurance executive and former Washington Redskin who spent $2 million of his own money to mount a brief challenge to Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D) in 1998.
Also yesterday, Ehrlich toured the place he will call home for the next four years. The governor's mansion, he admitted, is a far cry from the two-story townhouse in Timonium that he shares with his wife, Kendel, and their 3-year-old son, Drew.
Ehrlich said he had visited the mansion during his eight years as a state delegate but was never allowed above the first floor. His first sight of the living quarters left him wide-eyed.
"Drew is going to have a ball!" he said. "There's a weight room, which is important to us. There's even a sauna, which I didn't know about. And there's a huge big-screen TV."
In the small-world category, it turns out that the man who will be preparing many of Ehrlich's meals is his former best friend from elementary school, David Hartung.
Ehrlich said he saw Hartung, the governor's assistant chef, for the first time in 33 years yesterday. Hartung, he said, told him he had applied for the job last year, anticipating that his old pal would win election.
"I couldn't believe it when he told me that," Ehrlich said. "It was so cool. We were best friends, literally."