- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 31, 2007

BALTIMORE — Former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. yesterday used his debut radio show to urge fellow Maryland Republicans to keep supporting the party, following widespread defeats in the November elections.

“Nobody really knows right now whether this is the permanent direction for the state, which is why I’m asking, I’m begging, I’m pleading … just to hang in there a little while longer,” he said.

The tentatively titled “Bob and Kendel Ehrlich Show” on WBAL-AM radio was supposed to be a free-form talker open to callers’ whimsies, but most of the two-hour program was dedicated to what Mr. Ehrlich knows best — politics.

Among the topics were in-state tuition for illegal aliens, the death penalty and taxes.

Though he said the idea of running for office after his defeat to Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, nearly five months ago is “not even registering,” Mr. Ehrlich has established a strong public presence since leaving office.

In less than three months, he began the radio show, started the Maryland branch of the Womble, Carlyle, Sandridge and Rice law firm, began writing a book and is helping in former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani’s presidential campaign. However, Mr. Ehrlich said he would not take a spot in a Giuliani Cabinet.

Former Govs. William Donald Schaefer and Marvin Mandel joined the Ehrlichs, and both of Mr. Ehrlich’s former running mates, Michael S. Steele and Kristen Cox, called in to the show.

Mr. Schaefer, who often was one of Mr. Ehrlich’s strongest supporters in Annapolis, said Mr. Ehrlich still has a bright political future but must be deliberate.

“He needs to sit down and think it out,” Mr. Schaefer said.

Many callers focused on the Assembly bill to give in-state tuition to illegal aliens, legislation Mr. O’Malley has said he would sign.

“To continually degrade the concept of citizenship … seems to be the underlying theory from the left,” Mr. Ehrlich said. “I think it’s bad public policy for Maryland and it’s bad public policy for the country, and the people should be heard on the issue.”

Mr. Ehrlich, dressed in a polo shirt and khakis, said the measure is indicative of the Democrats who control politics in Annapolis, though he has refused to take direct shots at Mr. O’Malley.

“In fairness, the present administration in Annapolis — (Comptroller) Peter Franchot; (Sen.) Brian Frosh; (Senate President) Mike Miller; and (House Speaker) Mike Busch — this is what they believe,” Mr. Ehrlich said. “There is very little anyone can do to stop them over the next few years.”

At one point Mr. Ehrlich said, “If the November elections were a harsh left turn in the long term, then there’s no place for me or people who think like me.”

Mr. Ehrlich also was reflective about how he chose to push during his four years to legalize slot-machine gambling, an issue that defined much of his administration.

“I would, however, probably in 2003, have a different view … less optimistic, less bullish, on the ability to pass a slots bill,” he said. “The deal that is probably going to be passed over the next year in Maryland was offered to me in 2003. I rejected it. That deal was slots plus taxes. We don’t need taxes.”

Mrs. Ehrlich provided a tempering influence on Mr. Ehrlich, often guiding the conversation and letting callers know when their time had ended.

“I think that this show is a forum for those of us not being represented in this state,” she said. “This is going to be a great outlet and a great forum for many people who are no longer represented.”

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