Wednesday, January 17, 2007

1:56 p.m.

ANNAPOLIS — Martin O’Malley became Maryland’s 61st governor this afternoon, smiling broadly as he took his oath of office and returned the state to Democratic control after four years of divided government.

“It’s an incredibly humbling honor,” Mr. O’Malley said after taking the oath administered by Chief Judge of the Maryland Court of Appeals Robert M. Bell.

“Thank you very much for the trust you placed in me and in Anthony” Brown, the new lieutenant governor, Mr. O’Malley told lawmakers and such notables as national Democratic Chairman Howard Dean and U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Baltimore native. Outgoing Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican, was not at the ceremony.

The legislature met Mr. O’Malley, the former Baltimore mayor, and his family with a standing ovation and cheered loudly after he swore his oath.

The governor entered office sounding themes of unity and civility after a fractious four years in which Mr. Ehrlich had to contend with a legislature dominated by Democrats.

At a prayer breakfast this morning in Greenbelt, Mr. O’Malley said he hoped “to infuse public discourse with the values that unite.”

Mr. O’Malley’s inaugural address had elements of optimism but few specifics about his plans as governor.

“Let us begin anew in our state, where all things are possible and where progress is every citizen’s responsibility.” Mr. O’Malley, 43, said in the prepared address.

Mr. O’Malley has said little since his election victory about his plans, except that he intends to spend more on school construction. More details about Mr. O’Malley’s plans are expected when he releases his state budget, as early as this week, and during his State of the State address Jan. 31.

A parade, amid 30-degree temperatures and bright sunny skies, is scheduled for later today and is to be followed by an inaugural ball in Baltimore tonight featuring the band Kool and the Gang.

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