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Tea party group marches on Annapolis, Ehrlich attends

DSC_0622.JPGMaryland's chapter of Americans for Prosperity, the grassroots group that sponsors "taxpayer tea parties" and that gained newfound attention for its role in raucous summer town hall meetings on health care reform, marched on Annapolis Wednesday night - or at least jumped up and down to stay warm outside the State House as the temperature hovered around freezing.

""We're all here tonight because we want change. We want the politicians who work in the buildings around us to understand that government cannot solve all of our problems," David Schwartz, AFP's Maryland director, yelled from a makeshift stage erected across the street, beside the governor's mansion. "Small businesses in this state are hurting. We want them to know that profit and prosperity are not dirty words. They are what makes us great. We need to get government off our backs."
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Expectations for the rally were heightened last week when former Maryland governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) used his radio program to promote the event, which coincided with the opening day of the state's 2010 legislative session.

"This is your night," Ehrlich, who is contemplating a rematch with Gov. Martin O'Malley (D), told his listeners Saturday on WBAL radio in Baltimore. "I want to encourage a major, major presence. I want to encourage the largest crowd ever in Annapolis, Maryland."

The event was certainly not the biggest -- one state law enforcement officer estimated the gathering at about 500 people. But Ehrlich, who arrived in a green winter coat and gloves, said the turnout made a statement - even if most members of Maryland's Democratic majority had long since left the State House.

"I've been telling everybody: don't expect your presence here tonight to change minds in there," Ehrlich said, motioning toward the State House. "You have two goals tonight, the fact that so many people showed up on a cold night ... that in and of itself says something. And I also make the point that it's a building block for November. There's only one game day here and the only day that really counts is November."

DSC_0703.JPGEhrlich did not address the crowd, and partially distanced himself from the gathering. "This is not an Ehrlich rally. I'm in the bleachers back here. On the radio show, they ...
asked me to give it some press and then [my wife] Kendel and I were saying, 'well we're asking people to come out in a cold tonight, we live two minutes up the road. We better show up, too.'"

Ehrlich did, however, call the turnout and popularity of the AFP a phenomenon, and said the make up of Wednesday night's gathering likely included many potential supporters.
"This is not just a Republican deal, there a lot of Democrats, Independents, Libertarians out here," Ehrlich said. "For a Republican [in Maryland] to have any chance, you really have to have an appeal to crossover Democrats, and they're out here tonight. ... you would expect in this type of crowd, sort of given the philosophy of a lot of these folks, that I'd have some appeal to them."

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Ehrlich, however, also reiterated that he hadn't yet decided to run, but would announce "soon, soon, soon."

It's a tough call," he said, "I'm a Republican in Maryland and in every race the odds are going to be stacked against you. That's just the fact of it, whether you like it or not. That's why I've had a process, and people have been very respectful of the process, I really have to say that and I thank them for that." (Ehrlich has previously said he's studying polling, and taking a scientific approach to deciding whether he has a fighting chance).
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Campaign or no campaign, Ehrlich said he was tired of O'Malley increasingly mischaracterizing his tenure in office, including, he said, in a radio appearance the governor made on Wednesday. Ehrlich declined to offer specifics.

"I'm at home, trying to get some work done and Kendel yells down, hey, you better turn the radio on, he's on WBAL saying 'Ehrlich, Ehrlich, Ehrlich.' I don't want to get involved in this but you also want to set the record straight. We will, regardless of what we're going to do, we're not going to let him get away with that stuff. Revisionist history is no more. We're not going to put up with it, I will not put up with it."
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By Aaron C. Davis  |  January 13, 2010; 9:32 PM ET
 
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Comments

This rally was a joke.

Americans for Prosperity is an open borders and amnesty group dedicated to the prosperity of a few DC insiders, nothing more.

Bobby should stay out of the governor's race and run against Babs instead.

A bunch of fools following those who are actively working to kill jobs in this state and increase visas.

What a bunch of yahoos.

Posted by: politicalregister | January 13, 2010 10:45 PM | Report abuse

AFP a "grassroots group"? Sadly, the Washington Post has fallen for AFP's propaganda hook, line, and sinker. Mr. Davis, please do your homework. AFP is a billionaire-funded astro-turf machine set up by the right-wing oil barons who own Koch Industries, and funded by their affiliated family foundations, according to http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Americans_for_Prosperity and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Americans_for_Prosperity and http://wonkroom.thinkprogress.org/2009/05/29/afp-timphillips-astroturf/.

Matthew Weinstein
Progressive Maryland

Posted by: weinsteinm | January 13, 2010 10:54 PM | Report abuse

Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), former governor, a teabagger? How embarrassing for him and the the state.

Teabaggers are the worst of the Republicans, the creators of America's deficit and the destruction of the world's economic system. They advocate cutting taxes and increasing government spending ontheir pet projects or ideas.

Posted by: chucky-el | January 14, 2010 8:35 AM | Report abuse

The Americans for Prosperity is not a tea party group. It's a pro-business, anti-labor, capitalistic very organized organization. Still, sad and pathetic.

Posted by: jckdoors | January 14, 2010 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Robert Ehrlich a teabagger? I always thought he was straight. I guess the fact that his wife looks like a man should have been the giveaway. How did they manage to sober her up?

Posted by: SoCali | January 14, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

funny how easy it was for this bogus group to fool ehrlich into attending their PR event that was staged as a "grass roots political event". Ehrlich is a tool.

Posted by: MarilynManson | January 14, 2010 9:40 AM | Report abuse

I attended the rally. There were way more than 500 in attendance as the WP stated; more like 1200+. I'm not rich, I'm not a part of any group, I'm not a right winger, I want a balanced budget - just like I have at home. This can only be accomplished if the politicians stop the spending! Why are there so many nasty comments posted about people who want a balanced budget. If this makes me a "teabagger" -- so be it!

Posted by: SusanDenis | January 14, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

I'm not rich either, I'm unemployed, and I'm not part of an organized group (just a registered Dem). So what government spending do you want cut? How about subsidies for oil companies, agri business, the military industrial complex, bailouts for banks and insurance companies? And how many of those at the Annapolis demo are Maryland residents and registered to vote here? I bet very few.

Posted by: VikingRider | January 14, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

In my opinion this group, and others of its ilk, want a government that is small enough to fit in an individual's bedroom but too large to fit into a corporate board room.

They only want the government off of the backs of people who meet their approval.

Posted by: kpharmer | January 14, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Wow, 500 teabaggers showed up, you say? That just may represent 100% of the remaining MD GOP membership.

Posted by: free-donny | January 14, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

HAHAHAHAHA...oh those baggers...

Posted by: unrest | January 16, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

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