Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Post Gives Luke Warm Endorsement to Ehrlich

Who woke up this morning expecting this?
WHEN HE RAN for governor of Maryland four years ago, Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s claim to the job seemed to rest on little more than a sense of entitlement and a telegenic, genial personality...Our choice is Mr. Ehrlich.
In all, the Post's endorsement is not the ringing praise thatBen Cardin received a few days earlier (or this one from the primary).

The editorial cites the Governor's balancing act, splitting state government between branches of different parties, but makes specific mention of the Governor's habit of allowing his ego to get in the way of progress:
There have been disappointments and dithering during Mr. Ehrlich's term as well, mostly of his own making. Relishing battle and cherishing his status as a besieged underdog, he picked fights needlessly, as in the childish blacklisting of two journalists from the Baltimore Sun. Likewise, his tiresome quarrels with the leaders of the General Assembly look more like clashes of puffed-up egos than hard legislative bargaining. Mr. Ehrlich could be a more effective governor if he applied himself more to the mechanics of governing and less to the skewering of his enemies on talk radio.
Of substance, the Post applauds the Governor's Flush Tax (which I agree is a good bill if it actually went to what Ehrlich said it would), work on the ICC (which was just as much Doug Duncan and the Montgomery County Council than it was Ehrlich) and work to bring more charter schools to Maryland (even while toeing the line with the Administration on NCLB).

Where, though, is the mention of skyrocketing higher education costs and the Governor's partisan-infused firings of hundreds of state workers? The Post has been hammering Ehrlich for four years on those very issues and made virtually no mention of either in this morning's endorsement.

One interesting note, the Post commended Ehrlich for raising taxes, a part of his record he all but ran away from during the debates:
Having inherited a crushing deficit upon taking office in 2003, he benefited over the next three years from a muscular national economy that lifted Maryland, as it did most states, and pumped up the public coffers in Annapolis. Still, Mr. Ehrlich helped his own cause by raising funds through higher taxes and fees, breaking with his party's knee-jerk anti-tax orthodoxy and using the proceeds constructively.
Where's Ehrlich going to run to now that his tax policy is one of the bedrock rationales for the Post's endorsement?

The weakest argument the Post's editorial made was that Ehrlich's party affiliation is helpful to the people of Maryland. The ed board is wary of a return to single party government at all levels, as evident in many of the paper's Congressional endorsements this cycle. But Ehrlich's party affiliation does not put checks on the Assembly, it only magnatizes partisan division and further gridlocks legislative progress.

Ehrlich has spent four years picking fights so he can get the chance to play victim. I have no problem with divided government and tend to think it has virtue in some cases. But those cases only show their face when both sides are willing to come to the table with the other and work out practical compromises.

Ehrlich has vetoed more bills than any other Maryland governor in recent history, including a minimum wage increase and Fair Share Health Care. The Right will argue until they are hoarse that the Democratic leadership forces Ehrlich's veto stamp, but I am reminded of a Democratic Governor who walked into the Republican-controlled State House in Richmond and left office four years later with the distinction of his state being named the Best Managed State by Governing Magazine. Ehrlich needs to be reminded that compromise isn't a dirty word.

Unfortunately, the Post's admiration for divided checks on government has resulted in the endorsement of an incumbent governor who is hell-bent on running a recklessly partisan government because he feels that he has been made a victim of a Democratic Assembly that has, in fact, been elected by more than a majority of Marylanders.

If Ehrlich can't respect the Assembly's right to act and his opponents' rights to disagree, he deserves nothing more than a going away party, a car ride back to Arbutus and a guest spot on the Junkies after Mayor O'Malley's inauguration.

Originally posted at Outside the Beltway


Blogger Terry in Silver Spring said...

Further proof that the Post doesn't understand Maryland and may only rarely actually venture into this State. They alternately treat us as a crime-ridden, hoodlum and redneck infested backwater, or as a bizarre liberal enclave.

10/25/2006 11:40:00 AM  
Blogger nickshepDEM said...

Good read. I enjoyed it.

Im off to phone bank for O'Malley. This endorsement means we'll just have to work a little harder to offset it.

10/25/2006 01:23:00 PM  

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