- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 4, 2003

  BALTIMORE — Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., marking his 100th day in office today, still is reminding people of his Cinderella-story election victory to become Maryland’s first Republican governor in more than three decades, and still is railing against the “tax-and-spend” Democratic establishment that he vows to reform.
  His speeches to business, civic and student groups start with an obligatory nod to his new residence at Government House.
  “I want to thank everyone for the house. I really do like the house,” Mr. Ehrlich told about 450 members of the watchdog group Maryland Business for Responsive Government yesterday at a luncheon at the Baltimore Hyatt Regency Hotel.
  He reminded the crowd of the monumental task he faced in advancing his agenda against the Democrat-controlled General Assembly. He stressed the point as he acknowledged a string of defeats during his first legislative session.
  These major losses, part of what Mr. Ehrlich described as getting his “butt kicked,” included the demise of his bill to legalize slot machines at horse tracks and having a Cabinet nominee rejected for the first time in the 34-year history of the state’s Cabinet system.
  The governor repeated his challenge to House Speaker Michael E. Busch, Anne Arundel County Democrat and the chief architect of the slots bill’s demise, to soften his stance against the proposal and help the state realize about $700 million a year in slots revenue, all of it earmarked for pubic schools.
  Despite his chronicle of legislative defeats, Mr. Ehrlich reveled in his modest victories. He extolled the passage of legislation to establish more charter schools and to put professional teachers on staff in juvenile jails. He also touted headway he made in making state government more fiscally responsible, repeating his promise to veto $137 million in new corporate taxes approved by the legislature.
  “We really have made some progress,” said Mr. Ehrlich, who plans to celebrate the achievements of his first 100 days with a tour of the state beginning tomorrow.
  The tour also will give the governor a platform to drum up popular support for his next legislative agenda. He again will talk up the need for tougher gun-crime laws, as well as initiatives to combat illegal drugs, further reform the juvenile justice system and redevelop abandoned industrial real estate.
  Mr. Ehrlich was likely to temper the celebration, as he did in Baltimore yesterday.
  “Please understand this point,” Mr. Ehrlich said. “This is a right-of-center administration for the first time in a long time … dealing in a generally left-of-center General Assembly. So, to the extent we get things done, some folks are going to be rather surprised. It is never going to be easy.”
  He said he expected some more “rough spots” ahead in battles to change the political culture in Maryland, reviving his campaign theme that three decades of a Democratic political monopoly had bred a “culture of corruption.”
  “There are still people angry about this election,” Mr. Ehrlich said. “It’s not going to be easy. I don’t like anything easy. I’m a Republican in Maryland.”

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