- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Two of Maryland’s arch political nemeses will stand together Tuesday in ceremonial bliss.

Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, is set to attend the unveiling of former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.’s portrait at St. John’s College - part of a long tradition of gubernatorial pomp and circumstance. Former first lady Kendel Ehrlich’s portrait also will be unveiled.

The formal meeting presages a likely rematch of the two in a 2010 election and recalls the last time they met in the 2006 race.

“There was never a relationship to begin with,” Mr. Ehrlich, a Republican, said yesterday. “We’re very different people. He’s ambitious, and I’m ambitious. And we have a very different view. We’re just very different. That’s just the way it is.”

He also said Mr. O’Malley initially declined an invitation to come to the unveiling, but accepted after being persuaded by Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., Southern Maryland Democrat.

An O’Malley spokesman disputed that assertion.

“We received the invitation; there were some other things on the governor’s schedule that needed to be adjusted,” said communications director Rick Abbruzzese. “The governor is looking forward to attending. It’s out of respect for the office.”

Mr. Ehrlich continues to say it is too early to say whether he will run for governor again in 2010. And Mr. Abbruzzese said he would not speculate about Mr. Ehrlich’s ambitions.

“I guess we’ll have to ask Kendel,” he said.

The governors made a gentleman’s agreement not to chastise each other by name during the first year of Mr. O’Malley’s term, but the tenure of that agreement passed months ago and the two have hardly been shy in bashing each other.

“Only in the last year has there been a change of tone,” Mr. Ehrlich said.

Since taking office in January 2007, Mr. O’Malley has blamed much of Maryland’s financial troubles on Mr. Ehrlich, who has maintained a strong public presence since leaving office - including writing a book and hosting a weekly radio show with his wife.

Last month, he blasted Mr. O’Malley in fundraising letter.

“Do you want to send Martin O’Malley and the rest of his liberal henchmen the message that we’re fed up with their higher taxes and bigger government?” he asked.

Mr. Ehrlich also has maintained a strong campaign operation - spending more than $100,000 on direct-mail pieces to supporters last year and staffing a small office in Baltimore County.

He has completed a draft of his book and is searching for a publisher. And he is still a regular on the statewide fundraiser circuit.

As for Mr. Ehrlich’s portrait, he would say only that it is “traditional, but unique.”

He hinted that his family - he’s married with two sons - would play a large role in his portrait.

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