Look out, Mike Busch.
That was the shot across the bow fired by top Maryland Republicans last week when they held a fundraiser for a newly formed political action committee called Clean Sweep 30 PAC.
The "30" stands for House Speaker Michael E. Busch's legislative district, and the invite list read like a who's who from the inner circle of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R). Among them: Ehrlich's chief fundraiser, Dick Hug, Appointments Secretary Lawrence J. Hogan Jr., Chief of Staff Chip DiPaula Jr., Communications Director Paul E. Schurick, Planning Secretary Audrey E. Scott, and Lynn Y. Buhl, the natural resources official whose nomination to be a Cabinet secretary was rejected by the state Senate.
The day after the event, Schurick told the Gazette that the administration "played absolutely no role" in the event and said several of those listed never received invitations. Schurick did not return a call from The Washington Post.
The PAC was formed by Barbara Corboy, a Republican activist in Annapolis who said its goal is "to bring more Republicans into the General Assembly" so they can support the governor's initiatives. Corboy would not say who from among those named on the invitation list attended.
Busch (D-Anne Arundel) has been a high-profile thorn in Ehrlich's side, especially on the governor's proposal to legalize slot machine gambling. Corboy said the fundraising drive is not specifically targeting Busch. But Hug, who did confirm attending, said: "You can read between the lines."
The Nov. 16 function sought $100 to $1,000 from guests and raised about $10,000, Corboy said.
Busch said the only thing about the effort that troubled him was that "they commandeered our slogan."
"Our slogan is 'clean sweep,' only I think we have the candidates to actually back that up," Busch said.
Elections Board Resolution
A standoff apparently ended last week between Ehrlich's office and state Democrats over the appointment of Democrats to the State Board of Elections -- but not before another exchange of incendiary letters.
"This letter is in response to Governor Ehrlich's continued excuses for refusing to follow the law and appoint Democratic Party selections to the State Board of Elections," Maryland Democratic Party Chairman Terry Lierman wrote early in the week. "Your actions are illegal and violate the rights of millions of Maryland voters."
Lierman has been steaming that Ehrlich spent nearly three months sitting on the appointments of two candidates recommended by the Democratic Party: Thomas J. Fleckenstein, an Anne Arundel County lawyer; and Bobbie Sue Mack of Prince George's County, who served a prior stint on the board.
Ehrlich officials first contended that Democrats had not precisely followed a new law outlining how appointees should be selected. Then the administration said the party had not provided the proper paperwork to process them.
"Now that you have finally complied with the requirements, we will immediately move forward on these appointments," Hogan, the appointments secretary, wrote Friday. "I believe we have made extraordinary good faith efforts to move action on these nominations to restore the State Board to its full working complement. Thank you for enabling us to do so."
Ehrlich Campaign Site Up
While Ehrlich has never formally announced that he is planning to seek reelection next year, his campaign appears to be off and running.
Evidence of this popped up on computer screens Friday with the unveiling of Ehrlich's campaign Web site, www.bobehrlich.com.
The slogan on his home page should leave no doubts about one of his central campaign themes. It says, "Governor Bob Ehrlich: Education Working for Our Kids." The glossy site includes plenty of photos and a long list of accomplishments.