- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 28, 2006

ARBUTUS, Md. — Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. announced his re-election campaign yesterday in front of his boyhood home. Today, he is expected to name as his running mate a high-ranking administration official who is legally blind.

“We have a lot more to do in Annapolis,” Mr. Ehrlich, the state’s first Republican governor since 1966, told a crowd of about 600.

Mr. Ehrlich, flanked by his wife, Kendel, his two sons and his parents, said he planned “to take on the [Democratic] monopoly again, and this time we’re going to bring the monopoly down.”

Mr. Ehrlich is expected to pick Kristin Cox, secretary of the state’s Department of Disabilities, as his running mate, said sources close to the governor.

He hinted at Mrs. Cox while talking about his administration’s efforts to improve services to the disabled.

“People with disabilities in Maryland are empowered more than in any other place in the country,” Mr. Ehrlich said.

The others on Mr. Ehrlich’s short list are Sen. Sandra B. Schrader, Howard County Republican; Audrey E. Scott, secretary of planning; and Victor L. Hoskins, secretary of housing and community development.

Ehrlich advisers have downplayed the significance of the choice for lieutenant governor, saying the governor will be running on the record he established in his four-year term.

In 2002, the Ehrlich ticket was bolstered by the addition of former Maryland Republican Party Chairman Michael S. Steele, who became the first black man elected to statewide office in Maryland. Mr. Steele is now running for the U.S. Senate.

Mr. Ehrlich has trailed his Democratic opponent, Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley, in most polls.

The governor does have an edge in fundraising, with $8.4 million to Mr. O’Malley’s $4.2 million at the last disclosure, but Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan’s departure last week from the Democratic race will allow Mr. O’Malley to focus his resources on defeating Mr. Ehrlich.

House Speaker Michael E. Busch, Anne Arundel County Democrat, said Mr. Ehrlich will be difficult to unseat.

“Obviously he has the incumbency on his side and a tremendous war chest,” said Mr. Busch, who has clashed often with the governor.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Ehrlich flew over the Eastern Shore and Montgomery County to get a firsthand look at problems created by heavy rains this week.

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