On Sept. 24, 2010, former Governor and current candidate for Governor Robert Ehrlich met with students in Professor Grogan’s Parties and Elections class before meeting with small business owners in Daugherty-Palmers Commons (DPC).
Ehrlich began his question and answer session with student by introducing his staff, which included the parents of a prospective student. Among Ehrlich’s campaign staff was Doug Mayor who graduated from St. Mary’s in 2004.
Mayor, a Political Science Major and lacrosse player, interned on Capitol Hill, researched for Rudolph Giuliani’s Presidential Campaign, and worked for the Republican National Committee before joining Ehrlich’s campaign as a researcher. Ehrlich joked with Mayor about a poor grade he received in Grogan’s class. “It was a well deserved grade,” said Mayor.
“It is a well defined race,” said Mayor, “the undecided [voters] will make the difference and, lucky for us, the undecided [voters] are swinging for us.”
During an informal question and answer session on topics ranging from the budget to constitutional conventions, Ehrlich discussed the difference between this campaign and the 2006 campaign. “[This campaign is] completely different,” he said, “when times are better, it’s more of an issueless environment. When times are more difficult, [the election] lends itself to more substance.”
Junior Brooks Von Schandelmeier asked, “what would you do to get spending under control?”
“[Get] off our addiction to federal stimulus,” Ehrlich responded, “we have a very dangerous situation where we have taken stimulus dollars and not spent them on one time expenditures.” In addition to one time sources of funding, Ehrlich said he would address the “three drivers of state budget: pensions, Medicaid and people.”
Sophomore Alex Walls asked, “first thing, day one, what would you be dealing with?”
“The first is the budget,” said Ehrlich. After the budget, he said, “my major focus, day one, will be a home run. A corporate headquarters. A big project…something that says we are pro-business here in Maryland.” Ehrlich added, “in politics like in anything, like in football, momentum counts.”
“I want you all to stay in Maryland. You’re going to stay in Maryland for a variety of reason, family, marriage but one of the major reasons is ‘does Maryland have the job I want?’ So that’s my focus next to the budget,” Ehrlich said.
When asked about current Governor Martin O’Malley’s biggest failures, Ehrlich said, “I am not here to politic…but if you look at almost every major issue…we disagree.” According to Ehrlich, that disagreement allows for a good, substantive campaign.
Ehrlich concluded the class with some advice to students: “regardless of what direction you’re going in, learn to write well…if you can’t write, you’re not going to impress anyone.”
After Ehrlich left students, he joined a group of twenty small business owners in DPC. Also at the roundtable were Dan Burris, County Commissioner, Steve Waugh, Candidate for State Senate, and Anthony O’Donnell, House of Delegates.
The conversation revolved around State bureaucracy and taxes that act as an impediment to small business growth. “The federal component to our economy creates a false sense of security in Annapolis”, said Ehrlich, “[they think] we can be as anti-business as we want to be.”
Small business owners expressed frustration over dealing with state agencies. “The bureaucracy that is jacking you around, is meant to get you to give up,” said Ehrlich, “this, by the way, is directly related to who the governor is.”
Former Governor Ehrlich’s visit to campus was arranged by Todd Eberly, Acting Director of the Center for the Study of Democracy. Eberly said, “[Ehrlich’s visit] was a great opportunity for students and a chance to build a bridge with the county.”
According to Eberly, Governor O’Malley has been invited to visit the school and his campaign “has expressed an interest in coming down to visit.”
See the full question and answer session and roundtable on http://thepointnews.com