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Ehrlich, Franchot Trade Letters

Annapolis was abuzz last week over dueling letters written by two longtime nemeses: former Republican governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and current Democratic Comptroller Peter Franchot.

Ehrlich, who was defeated barely six months ago by Gov. Martin O'Malley (D), sent a fundraising appeal to former supporters letting them know that "just because I have left office doesn't mean that I have left the public arena."

Ehrlich was highly critical of O'Malley and other current Democratic officeholders in Annapolis, calling them "ultra-liberal bosses" and accusing them of a zeal to raise taxes. Ehrlich, who is co-hosting a weekly radio show in Baltimore with his wife, Kendel Ehrlich, made no mention of running for office again but said money is needed for grass-roots efforts and communications.

"To counter the hard left shift in Maryland, we need money," Ehrlich wrote. "We've come too far and made too much progress to simply turn our backs because of one unprecedented election."

Franchot, who served alongside Ehrlich in the House of Delegates for an eight-year stretch in the late 1980s and early 1990s, responded to the former governor's appeal the day it surfaced in the media -- with a letter shared with the media.

"Just wanted to send you a note wishing you well in your new radio career and also to let you know I received a copy of your hypocritical fundraising letter," Franchot wrote. "While I regret that I will not be able to contribute to your effort, I thought you might like an update on what is happening here in Annapolis since your departure. . . .

"You would hardly recognize the place. Republicans, Democrats, legislators, Cabinet secretaries are all actually talking to each other and trying to work together to make progress on the challenges that face our state. . . . Unfortunately, we have to work on issues that you largely ignored during your term in office. The budget deficit that you left and made absolutely no progress on is perhaps the largest mess we will have to clean up."

Franchot also offered in his letter a preview of action expected to be taken tomorrow by the Board of Public Works, a three-member panel on which he now sits as comptroller.

"While in your letter you mention a laundry list of taxes, you seem to ignore the state's property tax rate," Franchot wrote. "I thought I'd let you know that this coming Monday . . . Governor O'Malley and I will be voting against raising the current property tax rate -- the same property tax that you increased dramatically in your first year in office."

Ehrlich's vote was part of an effort to close a budget shortfall he inherited from Parris N. Glendening (D).

Ehrlich's four-page letter was also notable for the personal update it provided and for the description of his tenure as governor as "the greatest four years of my life."

"While last year's elections did not go the way we had expected, our fight for Maryland's future goes on," Ehrlich wrote. "Kendel, Drew, Josh and I have settled into our new home just outside Annapolis, and I've started an exciting new job with a large law firm."

John Wagner

By Phyllis Jordan  |  April 30, 2007; 6:35 AM ET
Categories:  John Wagner  
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