Democrats pounce on Ehrlich endorsement
Former Maryland governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) came under heavy attack by Democrats Thursday as he picked up the endorsement of a modest-sized state employees union.
Ehrlich used a state office complex in Baltimore as a backdrop as he accepted the endorsement of the Maryland Classified Employees Association, which claims 9,700 active and retired state and county workers as members.
At a news conference, the Republican challenger knocked Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) for furloughing state employees as a means to balance the budget, saying he does not believe in the practice of unpaid leave.
"Political leaders should never beat up on the people who wake up your state and put it to bed at night," Ehrlich said. "We should be thanking you, not furloughing you."
Even before the endorsement was announced, Democrats started trying to discredit it.
The Maryland Democratic Party put out a news release pointing out that the union's executive director, David Boschert, is a former Republican delegate from Anne Arundel County who is running to get his seat back this year.
"It doesn't take much to figure out what backroom deals were made to throw this endorsement to Ehrlich and what empty promises Boschert conveyed to the membership on behalf of one of his buddies," said Democratic Party chairwoman Susan Turnbull.
Ehrlich dismissed that attack as one of several "shenanigans" Democrats were pulling in response to the endorsement.
"The opposition is always trying to find ways to sabotage a positive campaign," said Boschert, who appeared at Ehrlich's event in Baltimore.
Shortly after the event, O'Malley campaign manager Tom Russell blasted Ehrlich for "election-year pandering at its worst" for promising to avoid furloughs.
Russell accused Ehrlich of planning to lay off state workers, pointing to comments made by the former governor in January on his radio show: "I'd much rather restructure. ...If you're going to restructure a number of jobs, you do it. But furloughs is really a slow bleed."
"Governor O'Malley has been honest about the tough decisions we've made together to cut spending and at the same time keep our workers on the job," Russell said. "Like every family in our state that has had to tighten its belt, Governor O'Malley has asked our state employees to do more with less over these last four years and they have delivered results for the people of our state."
The 9,700 members of the Maryland Classified Employees Association include about 4,700 current state employees that work in almost every state agency, said Stephen J. Schaefer, the union's president.
The largest union of state employees, AFSCME MD, is expected to make an endorsement in the governor 's race later this month. That union represents about 30,000 workers, according to spokeswoman Maureen O'Connor.
September 2, 2010; 11:25 AM ET
Categories: 2010 Elections , John Wagner
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