- The Washington Times - Monday, January 23, 2006

On the second floor of the Maryland State House, a sheet of paper hangs on each of the 13 doors to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.’s staff offices.

Printed on the paper is a quote from Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., a Democrat who represents Prince George’s and Calvert counties.

“GOP leaders ‘are going to be flying high, but we’re going to get together and we’re going to shoot them down. We’re going to bury them face down in the ground, and it’ll be 10 years before they crawl out again,’” the quote reads.

Mr. Miller made the comment in a speech nearly two weeks ago as the 2006 General Assembly in Annapolis was convening.

Such talk is common in a football locker room, where phrases and quotes from opposing teams are pasted on walls.

The practice has reached the corridors of the State House in Annapolis, where Democrats hope to regain control of the state’s top two posts this election year.

Mr. Ehrlich isn’t taking down Mr. Miller’s quote from the office doors anytime soon.

“The governor asked that it be posted on every door on the second floor to remind us of how the people downstairs think of us, to help us get through the day,” said Greg Massoni, the governor’s deputy director of communications.

Sen. Gloria Lawlah, Prince George’s Democrat, said she agrees with Mr. Ehrlich’s decision to keep Mr. Miller’s quote displayed on the doors.

“When you’re in a contest, if I’m Coach Ehrlich, I’m going to use everything I can to fire my team up, to put fire in their belly,” she said. “I’d do that, too … The Democrats miss the second floor. The whole thing is about the second floor.”

Mr. Miller said recently that he wasn’t talking specifically about Republican legislators or Mr. Ehrlich’s legislative agenda when making that comment.

“I was only talking about the governor and the lieutenant governor, and only about their campaign coffers,” Mr. Miller said, outside his office on the first floor of the State House.

Mr. Ehrlich has the most money in the state’s gubernatorial race — $8.4 million. Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley, one of Mr. Ehrlich’s Democratic rivals in the race, has about half that much.

Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, a Republican, is running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, a Democrat.

“All we have is the people, and we’re going to have to come together to defeat them,” Mr. Miller said.

Mr. Miller said that in his speech, he was using an analogy he first heard from other lawmakers who had talked about beating opponents so far into the ground “they’ll have to crawl to China somewhere before it’s time to elect another Republican governor.”

He said he gave his speech to a room full of Democrats, “ginning up enthusiasm among partisans.”

The Democrats have been anything but friendly to Mr. Ehrlich’s veto power in the session’s first two weeks.

They have overridden 13 of his vetoes on major bills, including one increasing the minimum wage and another requiring Wal-Mart to pay more for its employees’ health care.

“Clearly, they’ve overridden some horrible bills in the hopes of hurting this governor, and I think the people have clearly seen through this,” Mr. Massoni said.

Mr. Miller said Thursday that he knew his quote was put on the doors on the second floor. But he said he didn’t think he had given Republicans any extra motivation.

“They don’t need motivation,” Mr. Miller said. “They’re Kool-Aid drinkers.”

But Mr. Massoni said he and others had Mr. Miller’s words on their mind. “[Mr.] Miller said last year, ‘I try to keep most of my promises.’ We’re hoping this is one area where he tries and comes up short,” he said.

Lenny Alcivar, Mr. Steele’s campaign spokesman, said his office was aware of Mr. Miller’s quote.

“I think it’s safe to say that given the broad support that the lieutenant governor and the governor are clearly showing and given the feedback from Marylanders … [Mr. Miller] will wake up one day soon and regret that lapse in judgment,” Mr. Alcivar said.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide