Ehrlich hosts O'Malley's Democratic rival on radio
A radio confrontation between Maryland's leading candidates for governor did not materialize Saturday morning. But former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) did welcome one of Gov. Martin O'Malley's Democratic primary rivals to his weekly show.
George W. Owings III, a former state delegate from Southern Maryland, was Ehrlich's guest for about an hour Saturday on the WBAL talk show that Ehrlich co-hosts with his wife, Kendel.
The conversation between Owings, a conservative Democrat who served as Ehrlich's veterans affairs secretary, was chummy, with Ehrlich referring to Owings as "Georgie" at several points.
Late Tuesday, O'Malley challenged Ehrlich to debate him Saturday on WBAL with a moderator present. Ehrlich countered by offering to host O'Malley on his Saturday morning show, saying a moderator was not needed. Neither side gave ground.
"We're not going to allow Martin O'Malley to dictate terms of any debate," Ehrlich told his listeners.
"I don't need a moderator or round table or square table or anything else," Owings said at the outset of his appearance.
Owings, who has kept a low profile since his January announcement, agreed with Ehrlich on many of O'Malley's alleged shortcomings, including setbacks implementing the state's long-debated slot-machine gambling program.
"The tragedy here ... is that we had a plan," Owings told Ehrlich. "You put that forward. ... Unfortunately, we are no closer to slots than we were back then."
The two were not on the same page regarding Ehrlich's "flush tax," a $30 annual fee on wastewater bills and septic systems that is being used to upgrade sewage facilities across the state.
"Had to happen. The money had to come from somewhere," Ehrlich said. "It's something that I'm very proud of."
Owings called the fee "a necessary evil."
"I wasn't particularly crazy about another tax," he said.
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