- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 28, 2006

If Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich is re-elected, much of the credit should go to House Speaker Michael Busch, Senate President Mike Miller and an obscure Baltimore Circuit Court Judge named M. Brooke Murdock, who ruled last week that the state’s law limiting marriage to one man and one woman is discriminatory.

Since the General Assembly convened several weeks ago, the Democrats have overridden 17 vetoes cast by Mr. Ehrlich of legislation passed during last year’s session. While this is a temporary political embarrassment for the governor, the veto overrides offer him a golden opportunity to drive home to voters the point that the Democratic Party establishment has become too liberal for Maryland.

For one thing, the Democrats provided numerous examples of their determination to impose discriminatory new taxes and regulations on business — even at the cost of putting jobs at risk in some of the poorest areas of the state. Example number one was the bill requiring that Wal-Mart pay higher taxes to fund Maryland’s Medicaid program (which has jeopardized the state’s chances of getting Wal-Mart to build a new facility on the Eastern Shore). Sen. Ted Kennedy hailed the General Assembly’s decision to increase the minimum wage by $1 to $6.15 an hour — never mind the law’s history as a destroyer of entry-level jobs for minorities and the poor. Lawmakers also overrode the governor’s veto of legislation to establish early voting polling places starting up to a week before Election Day, even though Mr. Ehrlich made a strong case that the bill lacked meaningful anti-fraud safeguards.

Mr. Busch and his fellow Maryland Democrats also showed that they remain as committed as ever to the sort of nanny-state liberalism that has helped make Republicans the dominant national party, voting to override the governor’s veto of legislation permitting Montgomery County to institute speed cameras. Lawmakers disregarded the governor’s legitimate objections that the cameras: a) are questionable as a means of ensuring traffic safety; and b) will function as a form of harassment for motorists who attempt to travel with the actual flow of traffic along corridors such as Connecticut Avenue.

General Assembly Democrats are running scared in the wake of Judge Murdock’s ruling that the state’s marriage law was unconstitutional; liberal Montgomery County Democrats like Sen. Brian Frosh want all discussion of the issue delayed until next year, while Republican lawmakers want to place a constitutional amendment on the November ballot overturning the court decision. Gov. Ehrlich (who opposes homosexual “marriage” but has not decided on the amendment issue) needs to act decisively and take a leadership role in seeing to it that Maryland voters can decide this issue for themselves in November.

As for Mr. Miller, he says Democrats want to “bury” Mr. Ehrlich, Lt. Gov. Michael Steele and the GOP “face down in the ground, and it will be 10 years before they crawl out again.” But the GOP may have the last laugh: Early indications are that Mr. Ehrlich and the Republicans are more than holding their own in fund-raising. The veto overrides may prove to be pyrrhic victories for the Democrats.

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