Ehrlich visits Towson resident with oversized sign
Former Maryland governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) on Thursday brought his campaign to get his old job back to the front lawn of Steve Kolbe.
The Towson resident's effort to advertise his allegiance to Ehrlich -- by way of a 32-square-foot campaign sign there -- has become a cause celebre for Republicans ever since Baltimore County officials ordered Kolbe to take it down.
"It's a shame that we're here today," Ehrlich told Kolbe, as television news cameras rolled. "You would think that the county inspectors would have something better to do than harass you."
County law prohibits signs larger than 8 square feet, and officials in the battleground jurisdiction have said politics played no part in their issuance of a citation to Kolbe, whose sign measures 8 feet by 4 feet. Failure to take down the sign could result in a $200-a-day fine or 90 days in jail, or both.
Kolbe, who described himself as "a law-abiding citizen," said he took the sign down after the May 7 order. It was back on display briefly Thursday during Ehrlich's campaign stop.
"I hope the county doesn't come here in the next hour and issue us another citation," Kolbe said.
Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith is a Democrat, and he is a close ally of Gov. Martin O'Malley, the Democratic incumbent who defeated Ehrlich in 2006.
Asked if partisanship was an issue, Ehrlich said: "I don't know. I know it just flies in the face of common sense."
Kolbe filed a lawsuit in federal court this week, arguing that the county's sign rule is "tantamount to a ban on political free speech."
"I have a big front lawn, and I live on a busy road," he told reporters. "I just want to put up one sign."
The lawyer representing Kolbe is Mike Pappas, a former parliamentarian of the Maryland Republican Party who explored running for governor this year but decided against moving forward.
May 27, 2010; 7:30 PM ET
Categories: 2010 Elections , John Wagner
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