- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 15, 2006

ANNAPOLIS — Comptroller William Donald Schaefer, a former Maryland governor and Baltimore mayor, yesterday offered condolences to outgoing Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and advice to Gov.-elect Martin O’Malley.

“We were very lucky to have you as governor,” Mr. Schaefer told Mr. Ehrlich at one of their final Board of Public Works meetings. “You’re an honest man. You work hard…. Life is sometimes very cruel.”

Mr. Ehrlich, Republican, lost last week in his re-election bid to Mr. O’Malley, Baltimore’s Democratic mayor.

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Mr. Schaefer, a Democrat, was defeated in the September primary by Peter Franchot, Montgomery County delegate.

“I hadn’t lost in a long time,” said Mr. Schaefer, who had served four terms as mayor before serving as governor from 1987 to 1995. “When you lose, it’s hard. …Sometimes the electorate makes mistakes.”

Mr. Ehrlich, 48, and Mr. Schaefer, 85, who have used the public works meetings as a bully pulpit over the last few years, will appear at two more meetings before the new administration takes charge. Mr. Ehrlich said he would save his comments until the final meeting Jan. 3.

“What I like about you was something I never did,” Mr. Schaefer told Mr. Ehrlich. “You had a balanced life. You worked hard, but you had a good family life.”

Mr. Schaefer has never married. But during his time as governor, companion Hilda Mae Snoops lived with him in the governor’s mansion.

Mr. Schaefer, who has been an ally to Mr. Ehrlich on the three-member board, which approves state contracts, also sneaked in a dig at former Gov. Parris N. Glendening, a Democrat with whom he often sparred.

“They’ll put your picture up there,” Mr. Schaefer told Mr. Ehrlich, referring to the painted portraits of former governors in the governor’s reception room.

“I hope you’ll wear proper dress,” Mr. Schaefer said, referring to the portrait of Mr. Glendening in which he is wearing a polo shirt under a dress coat, instead of a shirt and tie. The room exploded in laughter.

After the meeting, Mr. Schaefer told reporters that Mr. O’Malley will do a good job as governor “if he takes his eyes off being president and puts his nose into governor.”

“But he’s got to learn that,” Mr. Schaefer added.

Mr. O’Malley has been criticized for focusing too much on his next job.

“He’s got a great opportunity,” Mr. Schaefer said. “I just hope he won’t keep looking up too high. Look where you are now and see what you can do now.”

Mr. Schaefer also joked about running next year for Baltimore mayor.

“The mayor was the best job I ever had,” he said. “If the Lord would say, ‘Donald, you can run,’ that would be something else. But I haven’t gotten the word yet. …I need divine intervention. You hear that Lord? You hear that? There ain’t nothing coming back.”

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