- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 8, 2003

A tight-knit circle of advisers will have Gov.-elect Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s ear as he advances the first Republican agenda Maryland has seen in 34 years, an agenda that will emphasize a crackdown on gun crime and a smaller state government.
In addition to those tapped for Cabinet posts and other high-level positions, Mr. Ehrlich will be assisted by longtime friends and political advisers, including his wife of nine years, Kendel Ehrlich.
"She sees herself as a traditional first lady, but I know Bob trusts her advice," said a member of the transition team who is close to Mr. Ehrlich. "She doesn't make policy, but her advice is valuable to Bob. She is someone he trusts implicitly."
Ehrlich spokeswoman Shareese N. DeLeaver said Mrs. Ehrlich would be "one of the most active first ladies in the history of state government."
Also serving as a close adviser is former state Sen. Marty Madden, a Howard County Republican who is an old friend of Mr. Ehrlich's and was instrumental in crafting Maryland's welfare-reform policies. He has been called an "integral part" of Mr. Ehrlich's inner circle.
Mr. Madden consulted the Ehrlich campaign on budget issues and has spearheaded the transition team's effort to craft a budget by Jan. 17 that erases the $1.3 billion shortfall. He is widely viewed as a leading candidate to become Mr. Ehrlich's budget secretary.
Another trusted voice on budget issues, which are likely to dominate the General Assembly session that begins today, is James T. Brady, a Democrat and former Cabinet secretary to Gov. Parris N. Glendening.
Mr. Brady has been running the daily operations of the transition team. He might be in line for a top job in the administration. If he doesn't serve in an official capacity, he is likely to remain an important adviser to the new governor.
Lt. Gov.-elect Michael S. Steele will also play a pivotal role in shaping Mr. Ehrlich's agenda. The governor-elect has said his lieutenant will be a "true partner" in running the state.
Other influential advisers are the chief of staff, Steven Kreseski, who served as Mr. Ehrlich's chief of staff in Congress, and communications director Paul Schurick, former chief of staff to Gov. William Donald Schaefer and the chief spokesman for Mr. Ehrlich's campaign.
Mr. Ehrlich's campaign director, Chip DiPaula, has continued to work closely with him since the election, and he is considered a likely choice for a top administration post.
Meanwhile, the new administration has begun to take shape. Mr. Ehrlich has made five appointments that reflect his pledge to include women, minorities and Democrats in influential positions.
Yesterday Mr. Ehrlich named former Delegate Kenneth C. Montague Jr. secretary of juvenile justice services. The post will be instrumental in reforming the state's troubled juvenile justice system, one of three priorities Mr. Ehrlich has outlined for his first year in office.
Mr. Montague, a black Democrat from Baltimore, served on the House Judiciary Committee with Mr. Ehrlich when both men were delegates in the 1980s. He is a longtime advocate of juvenile justice reform and was heralded by child-welfare advocates as the perfect choice for the job.
"This department is a troubled department. It needs reform," Mr. Ehrlich said, making the announcement at a community center in a predominantly black Annapolis neighborhood.
During his campaign for governor, Mr. Ehrlich harshly criticized Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend's handling of criminal matters, saying she presided over a juvenile justice system in a state of collapse. He promised an overhaul of the way the state deals with young offenders.
"It's a very fine appointment. If all his appointments are like that there will not be one dissenting voice among Democrats," Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., Calvert Democrat, said.
Mr. Ehrlich recently named former Prince George's County Council member Audrey E. Scott, a Republican who unsuccessfully opposed Jack Johnson for county executive last year, secretary of planning.
He named Boyd K. Rutherford secretary of general services. Mr. Rutherford is a black Republican who has served as associate administrator for the U.S. General Services Administration.
Mr. Ehrlich said Mrs. Scott and Mr. Rutherford were career public servants who would lead his effort to reinvent state government.
Mr. Ehrlich has also tapped R. Karl Aumann as secretary of state. Mr. Aumann served as the chief administrator for Mr. Ehrlich's congressional office, developing policy on economic development, trade and international relations.
As secretary of state, Mr. Aumann will serve as chairman of the Governor's Subcommittee on International Affairs and will focus on strengthening Maryland's position in the global marketplace.

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