Bay Weekly Interviews
Candidates for Governor of Maryland

 Vol. 10, No. 43

October 24-30, 2002

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Bay Weekly Interviews Candidates for Governor of Maryland

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Most Marylanders have never seen a gubernatorial election like this one. In the race to replace Gov. Parris Glendening, who is term-limited after eight years in office, Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, a Democrat, is vying with Rep. Bob Ehrlich, perhaps the GOP’s strongest candidate for governor in a generation.

Maryland is an overwhelmingly Democratic state by virtue of its urban population centers in Baltimore and suburban Washington. Nonetheless, Townsend has discovered a Maryland electorate willing to listen to both sides as it demands answers to vexing questions.

The winner of this hard-fought election will determine more than Maryland’s partisan leanings. At stake are a host of thorny public policy matters, among them slot-machine gambling, an unanticipated budget deficit and the future of Maryland’s trail-blazing Smart Growth law to rein in unwise development.

In Chesapeake Country, the issues looming are weighty indeed. By most accounts, Bay restoration has fallen behind, and both the blue crab and oyster populations are imperiled. The next governor will be forced to make unpopular decisions about regulations on the water and growth management on the land.

In Bay Weekly’s expanded election coverage, we bring you interviews with both Ehrlich and Townsend, the candidates striving to lead us in these challenging times.

Congressman Bob Ehrlich

Rep. Robert Ehrlich played college football, but he has had trouble knowing whether to play offense or defense in his campaign for governor. Maryland Republicans hope he makes the right calls because the stakes couldn’t be much higher for Ehrlich — or Maryland.

Bidding adieu to a promising career in Congress, Ehrlich, 45, is trying to become Maryland’s first Republican governor in nearly 40 years.

Not since the ethics-challenged Spiro Agnew prowled the Statehouse in Annapolis have voters in heavily Democratic Maryland elected a Republican to govern them. Ehrlich clearly offers the GOP their best shot in a long time. Helping Ehrlich along are his even disposition, his appealing story and his preppy look — yes, he does have Kennedy hair, even though he says it’s time to end that legacy.

That vow, by the way, has energized a segment of Maryland voters while helping raise money from rock-ribbed Republicans far and wide.

From a working class home in suburban Baltimore, Ehrlich went to Princeton, where he captained the football team, emerging to launch his fast-rising political career.

With an early staunchly conservative record in Congress, he seemed in step with the Newt Gingrich revolution of the mid-1990s. So now that he hopes to govern moderate Maryland, he must play defense, in the parlance of football, trying to persuade voters that he is no right-wing ogre.

He has endured a cavalcade of negative ads — for his votes on gun control and environmental protection, to name two issues — both from Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and from independent groups.

But Ehrlich also has found time to play the political game offensively, skewering Townsend for the budget shortfall that will plague Marylanders and our next governor for the foreseeable future.

For many years, the Maryland GOP has been hamstrung by candidates who would rather be right than win elections. In Ehrlich, Maryland Republicans have an appealing candidate who can spout economic theory as easily as pronouncing the president’s visit “cool,” and a rising star who can talk moderation even though it remains unclear if he’s willing to embrace it.

In an interview with Bay Weekly at GOP headquarters in Annapolis, Ehrlich defended his record in Congress and explained why he wants to keep a Kennedy out of the Maryland governor’s mansion.

BW Congratulations on your recent successes and in your big fund-raiser with President Bush.

BE Campaigns rarely go perfect, but since Day One we’re pretty close. Of course for a Republican in Maryland, you have to be.

BW Your fundraiser with the president was a record-breaking event, bringing in $1.6 million for Maryland’s biggest fund-raiser ever.

BE By far.

BW After the president had departed, we saw you quoted as describing the visit as “cool.” What did you mean by that?

BE George Bush is such a normal guy. He has this extraordinary job and these extraordinary powers. But he will sit here and talk about Iraq and baseball and the economy and how the Ravens offense is starting. He’s a really regular guy.

When I talked about restoring dignity to that office, you heard the reaction. Whether you like policy or disagree, a lot of people feel good about someone with that — not just demeanor — but with that makeup sitting in that office.

BW You were so disenchanted with the last occupant of that office that you refused to visit him.

BE Yeah, unfortunately. I hated feeling that way. Sometimes I agreed with President Clinton, and sometimes I disagreed. But I didn’t disagree with him all of the time.

I felt as though he cheapened the presidency.

BW Holding down a job in Congress and running a campaign, you’ve had to have a sort of bifurcated existence. Has Iraq had any impact on your campaign?

BE Because this is such a national race, the pressure to perform every day is pretty intense, and the press is everywhere because of the progress we’ve made in this campaign, it would have been easy to solely focus on what I’m trying to become: governor of Maryland. But I also understand that I’m a member of Congress and these are very trying times — and I have a role to play in Washington, still.

I do not cast and I will not cast a more important vote than when I vote on war. So you obviously take that job very seriously.

BW We’re a newspaper that pays a great deal of attention to decision-making on land-use and Chesapeake Bay. Last time we spoke, you mentioned that you were riding herd on the legislation that would help communities take care of their sewage treatment problems — which you view as a chief problem in Chesapeake Bay.

How in the final days of this Congress is that turning out?

BE It’s a very targeted bill, proposing $660 million specifically for nitrogen reduction in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. We’ve gained momentum, we’ve gained sponsorships.

BW Is it going to pass?

BE I don’t know. … I don’t care what form it passes in; I don’t need to have my name on the bill; I want these dollars coming to the watershed.

This is and was and will be my number-one priority with regard to water pollution and nutrient reduction in the Bay. We believe that if the dollars can be found and if they are spent appropriately, we can achieve an 88 percent reduction in nitrogen. I would offer that as the most important policy accomplishment any administration can claim.

It’s not very sexy to talk about sewage treatment, but if you’re looking at the science of the Bay and grasses and crabs, then nutrient reduction from those plants is essential.

BW One of the components of the nitrogen problem is, of course, the farm run-off …

BE That’s the second component of the equation …

BW And there’s the perception that you might try to undo some of the successes in combating nitrogen pollution, such as the requirement for farm management plans. Is this accurate?

BE That is inaccurate. The perception should be that I am not willing to put up with the bureaucracy that has shelved those nutrient management plans. The frustration from the ag community is almost tangible. I believe the perception is borne of that frustration — and it’s accurate, by the way.

To the extent that those plans are on the shelf, they’re not in the field and not working. To that extent, nothing is being done. My experience with the ag community is that farmers are the stewards of the land. Farmers live off the land, the survival of their families depends on that land. They understand that the future of the state, of their families, of the Bay, depends on sound agriculture practices.

So what I have said and what I mean is that the era of demonizing the ag community needs to end. The era of partnership needs to begin. That doesn’t mean the ag community is always right, that you just give them what they want. But it does mean we have a right to expect cooperation from all parties. That includes the state.

BW As you know having lived here all your life, oysters in Maryland are vastly depleted and the blue crab population is diminished. What ideas do you have about replenishing both species?

BE Oyster restoration is the third leg of our approach with regard to nutrient reduction in the Bay. You cannot have a better filter than oysters. I’ve been visiting aquaculture experiments around this Bay for years. I’ve talked with watermen about what we can do for replenishment. Obviously we have to live with disease, and the introduction of a new oyster is very controversial.

BW Should we put that new Asian oyster, Ariakensis, into our Bay?

BE I do not know. I am not a scientist. I’m a lawyer and a legislator, and hopefully I’ll be a governor. But I do know this: That decision is going to be a sound one. There’s a lot of pressure to do it. It’s economic pressure. We all know what’s happened with the depletion of the stock, 90 percent was the last figure I heard. So the decision has to be made in the short term, and it must be a function of sound science. I made that point to Chesapeake Bay Foundation last week.

BW Are the new crab regulations warranted?

BE The issue of five inches to five and a quarter is something that we’re looking at. Even that quarter inch has profound repercussions for the industry, far more than most people suspect. It was five for an awfully long time …

BW Does the faltering economy limit what this state ought to be doing as far as land preservation?

BE No. Just the opposite. The economy should be absolutely a neutral factor in regard to Program Open Space, Rural Legacy, neighborhood revitalization, a real Brownfields bill that works and all the programs we have.

I want to revisit the Brownfields issue. I want the Brownfields back on the tax rolls. I want them cleaned up. There’s far too many of the Brownfields, particularly around Baltimore, on the tax rolls. You talk about sound anti-sprawl policy. I cannot think of anything better than redeveloping those Brownfields.

Do I think that is part of a Smart Growth commitment in our administration? Absolutely.

BW Are you making a commitment to at least matching recent expenditures for land preservation?

BE My record in Congress and the state legislature on historic preservation, tax incentives and tax credits is a pretty strong one. It’s been easy for me to campaign on conservation and preservation.

I’ve been very careful about making dollar-related promises as the budget keeps getting worse and worse.

BW We try to cover all parts of the resources of the Bay, and one of those is property rights. We hear from some people that perhaps Glendening has gone too far. Perhaps some of that land should be kept in commercial use. Do you share any of those sentiments?

BE When government is taking land out of commercial use — which is an appropriate thing for government to do in many cases — the flip side is that you need to pay for it.

There is far too much antagonism between environmental interests and property rights advocates in my view. Buffer zones, ag preservation-conservation easements, Program Open Space, Rural Legacy: These are programs that I’ve supported and voted on. But I also understand that there are property rights that in a free society — in this society — are pretty important, so to the extent that government actions serve to limit the value of property, those owners should be compensated.

BW Yet your League of Conservation rating is the lowest of any Marylander in Congress. Why should voters who worry about unwise development, congestion and the Chesapeake Bay believe that you would be an environmental protector given what they see on that rating?

BE Certainly there’s an agenda there. There are certain votes that they want to score that do not represent my philosophical views. It depends on which way you want to look at that problem.

I am very comfortable with my votes on major issues. I’m campaigning on my records.

When I felt that the Republican leadership was going too far on EPA, on Clean Water, I stood firm. I have always worked well with Chesapeake Bay Foundation, with [its president] Will Baker. Some of these groups out there obviously have agendas, and they might not be the most accurate or relevant interpretation of a candidate’s views.

BW When we last spoke you alluded to League of Conservation Voters as a left-wing organization …

BE Very much …

BW But their board of directors includes people from Rockefeller Financial Services, University of Michigan, Georgetown Law, and there are a number of Republicans there, too, like Teddy Roosevelt IV. Are you equating environmentalists with extremists?

BE Did you do a compilation of how the League rated Republicans vs. Democrats?

BW It looks very Democratic.

BE Partisan. Very partisan. I think it speaks for itself.

If you look at my votes as they’ve been scored by a neutral organization like National Journal, you’ll see that on economic issues I’m very conservative. I’m an entrepreneurial conservative; I believe in putting more money into the pockets of people. On social issues I’m almost exactly in the middle in regard to my party and to Congress. And on defense, I certainly lean pro-defense, though I’m not with the far right. And I think those views generally reflect the state of Maryland.

BW Why are you ready to leave the federal government to return to the state?

BE It would have been very, very comfortable to stay with the Congress. I have a safe seat and a very good life, and it would have been easy to stay in Congress. But this was an opportunity — a rare opportunity for Republican candidates that only comes up every 40 years.

I’m at the point where I have the skills to change the culture and the budget mess that the state is in. Education is always a priority for governor, and I have a strong record. And I can bring change needed to Annapolis. This election is about change. And our thoughts are that people are responding to change.

BW You talk about ending the Kennedy legacy …

BE I feel that there’s an entitlement mentality going on. Legacy does not make you a leader. I’ve voted on impeachment and war and peace. Post 9/11, people want leadership. They know we’re $2 billion in the hole, and that we can’t pretend to grow out of this sort of fiscal situation.

It goes back to some of the comments that came up in the debate. She [Townsend] couldn’t understand how any Jewish people could vote for Ehrlich, and how any black folks could support Ehrlich. That’s a mindset that we disagree with, that we think leads to sloppiness and negligence and grand juries. And we want to take it down.

BW You’ve been reported as saying that leadership is the most important thing in this campaign. Are you short-changing the voters by not putting out piles of detailed position papers?

BE We have a website where people can get information on voting records. We’re putting out a very detailed juvenile justice position paper. We’ve talked very seriously about the budget and education, deficits, horse racing, slots.

One other thing with regard to the budget: She caused this problem. If anybody needs to put out detailed explanations, she does. She was there. This is her budget. This is her deficit. She was there every step of the way, secret meetings, the whole nine yards. You caused it. Explain it.

BW Speaking of nine yards, you’re a football player from college. In a campaign like this — with you coming out of Congress and she out of the governor’s office with the Kennedy name — are you playing an offensive strategy rather than a defensive?

BE We have spent a couple thousand hours on that. Sometimes yes. She’s the incumbent in a Democratic state, so she has the natural advantage. You have to be aggressive as a challenger, of course.

She’s also a woman candidate. I called her ma’am in the debate — she took it personally; that was the way I was raised. I didn’t mean to insult her. If it had been a man on the other side, I’d have said sir. That’s my language. That’s the way I am. It was shocking to me that she took it as insulting, but I’ll call her whatever she wants to be called.

You have to be cognizant of all these factors in a campaign. My natural instinct is to engage and fight and be aggressive. Sometimes that’s not the way you can be in a campaign.

BW In the debate at Morgan State University, you weren’t doing that, in the beginning in particular when the audience booed.

BE I was not going to speak with the boos and catcalls and Oreo cookies — very symbolic — being thrown at [running mate] Michael [Steele]. I wasn’t going to try to speak over all that.

BW Did that throw you off your stride in the debate?

BE Certainly it threw me off my stride. It was a hostile environment. Her words were meant to incite, and they did. The first two minutes, “lynching,” “Jim Crow,” “terrorist.”

By the way, it was not the kids of Morgan. They were thugs who were bused in. They punctured our tires, covered our car with bumper stickers, scratched it up. We have a three-year-old in that car a lot. It could have easily blown out with our three-year-old in that car.

Everyone has an opinion about that night. Some people give me credit for showing up in a hostile environment. I do not regret it. I’m a big boy. I do regret the treatment of our staff and my family and especially Michael, a black Republican, who had to take the racial stuff.

I wonder if winning the battle will cost her the war, because playing the race card so obviously in such a blatant way, we think, is going to ultimately cost her. They’ve dropped all pretense of a positive campaign.

BW The last Republican, Spiro Agnew, was elected governor 36 years ago. Why after all those years is the time right now?

BE It is a very unpopular administration that has overspent wildly. The education system is failing our kids. Particularly in Baltimore City, the graduation rates are staggering. Crime problems have us at Number One in robberies and third in violent crime in the country. There’s a whole culture down here: the investigations, grand juries, pension scam.

At some point, people say enough’s enough. We’re ready for change. We thought in the spring people would be ready for change. Things have only gotten worse, and as a result we’ve picked up 28 points in the polls.

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Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend

She gets a lot of scrutiny, this 51-year-old mother of four daughters who for eight years has worn the title of lieutenant governor. For all its impressive sound, lieutenant governor is a back-stage job. Only now that she’s the candidate is Kathleen Kennedy Townsend making her debut, and in that sense Marylanders are seeing her for the first time.

Of course most people, at least of a certain age, study her for a different reason, to see how — with what similarities and what differences — this first of Bobby Kennedy’s 11 children reflects the family image.

Your first impression might be how small she is, but her petiteness is deceptive. She’s coiled tight as a spring, and though slight, she’s got hard muscles.

Does she look like a Kennedy? She’s got the famous, thick hair and flashing eyes, but you don’t see her father or uncle in her face — though you catch glimpses in her energy, her optimism, her enthusiasm.

Does she look like a lieutenant governor? She sure doesn’t wear the cloak of formality the title suggests. Powered by a Starbucks’ grande, she charged up the steps at Bay Weekly’s creekside cottage office, admired the view, stripped down to her shirt sleeves and sat down to tell our editorial board what Marylanders say they’ve been waiting too long to hear: What she’s going to do for us.

Stakes are high, as polls placed Townsend neck-and-neck with her Republican opponent, Bob Ehrlich. Her energy was just as high, uncoiling as she sprang to one or another question as if it had been the one she was waiting for all the weeks her numbers dropped — all those weeks when, she claims, people weren’t ready to listen.

Here’s your chance — and hers …

BW As a paper, we bill ourselves as committed to the Chesapeake Bay, so we’re interested in your personal connection to the Bay as well as your policies for it. We know you are an outdoorswoman, even to climbing Mount Rainier on your 50th birthday a year ago. How does the Bay fit in your life?

KKT We love the Bay. I love sailing, and the kids love to sail. One daughter is on the sailing team at college. We love to hang out on the Bay — fish. It’s one of our favorite things to do.

BW Do you find the time for such pleasures?

KKT No. But you know what? I’m going to make the time when I’m governor. As lieutenant governor, I focused on criminal justice and economic development issues. The great advantage to being governor is that the environment is part of my portfolio, so I would have to spend more time on the Bay as part of my duty.

As far as policies, one of my main priorities is making sure we meet our obligations under the Chesapeake Bay agreement, and that requires upgrading sewage treatment plants. It requires that we start these stream cleanups, because so often it’s the streams dumping pollutants into the Bay. It requires working with farmers to reduce nitrogen in the Bay.

What I’m committed to — and this is very important — is working with people to find solutions. People love the Bay, and I look forward to building on their commitment to the Bay.

BW How we use the land determines what becomes of the Bay. Can you continue the pace of land preservation and Bay spending set in the current administration …

KKTAs you know, in this year’s budget some of the Program Open Space monies were cut back. In the new budget that I propose, I do take some of that Program Open Space money to use it for the General Fund, but I said it should be replaced by bond funding so there would be no further reduction.

I say that because once a piece of land is developed, it’s very hard to capture it back. One of the great joys of Maryland and one of the reasons people come here is our high quality of life, and that has to do with land preservation.

BW Quality of life is another of the issues we focus on. Can you give us some specifics on what makes Maryland a quality-of-life state?

KKT Basically, in a high-tech economy, which is what we’re moving into, people can choose any place to live. What they look for in a choice of where to live is access to higher education, both because that’s where the new ideas that create the jobs are spun off from and because they can get a good education for themselves and their families. That’s number one.

Two is quality of life, which includes not sitting in traffic for a long period of time, which is a big challenge in parts of the state.

Three, access to recreational facilities, whether it be Chesapeake Bay, our beautiful Western Maryland or parks and recreational activities. The Bay is one of the main attractions that we have to offer to get high quality businesses to come to Maryland. I’ve talked to so many CEOs. They want to live near Chesapeake Bay, so they bring their businesses with them.

BW We’ve written more than once about your opponent’s failing record on environmental votes in Congress — the worst League of Conservation Voters’ rating of any Maryland member of Congress. Yet in an electorate that counts unwise development and congestion among Maryland’s biggest problems, your opponent is roughly as popular as you are.

Have you drawn the distinctions sufficiently so that Marylanders who think about development and growth management understand the differences?

KKT Very frankly, in May, June, July and August, people weren’t willing to listen. I could have yelled to the wind, and it would have come right back to me. Now, they’re willing to listen.

BW Let’s turn to a related quality-of-life issue: transportation. You have a transportation master plan, but mass transportation is one of our problems rather than one of our strengths — especially in our part of Chesapeake Country. If you didn’t sit in traffic part of the time coming down here, it’s remarkable. Is there a plan you have for this part of Maryland?

KKT It’s not part of our long-range light-rail plan, though we do have a proposal to bring Metro’s Green Line down to the Clinton-Waldorf area. Basically what happens is, as more people move down here, if we need to do more transportation planning, we will. Then one of the first things I have to find out is what are the transportation patterns that need to be eased.

BW You may not have seen congestion, but you saw ranchettes popping up on seemingly every parcel of land.

KKT That I definitely saw!

BW Smart Growth is the hallmark of the present administration. What is the next phase of Smart Growth? There’s a sense around here that it’s a paper tiger.

KKT It’s definitely a tiger, and tigers are very hard to tame.

We expect to grow by five million people over the next 20 years. Where are they going to live?

I like to tell a story of talking to a woman in Canton, in Baltimore city. “You live in Canton, now,” I said. “You’re revitalizing Canton, making a difference.” I asked her, “Why are you doing that?”

She said, “I grew up on a farm, and the best way to preserve my farm is to make sure Canton is a viable community.”

So my strong commitment is to make our municipalities work, to try to make sure growth occurs more in our municipalities, not in all these wonderful places you’ve described to me.

One of the ways you have to face that challenge is making municipalities safe, because if they’re not safe, people won’t live there. Getting the schools to work, because if schools aren’t good, families won’t be there. Making it livable, getting the money for parks and recreation. You also have to make sure there’s transportation — that jobs are near the municipalities. That’s what I’m committed to doing.

Finally, one of the things you have to do is change the culture. What is your dream? To live in a vibrant city or to be in the suburbs with four acres and spend your Saturdays on the lawnmower?

BW In your administration, do you see room for both these options — vibrant cities and suburbs?

KKT You have to give people the option, and to make the option real you have to have government focus and investment in both areas. Right now, I’m focused on making sure they have the option to live in the city, because if we do, we won’t pave over all our farms.

BW Everybody knows where you come from, but we’d like to glimpse your heritage from your perspective. Is there a single quality that you have inherited from your father, Robert Kennedy, that you see in yourself?

KKT My father used to say courage is the most important virtue, for it is the one virtue that makes all others possible. Courage gives you the ability to do the right thing even when it’s tough. And I think that is true.

BW When your opponent, Congressman Ehrlich, has said on the stump that “the Kennedy legacy is dead,” what is your reaction?

KKT He said more than that! The first line of his fundraising letter says “Do you want another President Kennedy?” And the Republican National Committee has said they’re putting $500,000 toward the Ehrlich campaign so they can get rid of all the Kennedys. It’s outrageous.

You know what? I’m going to fight them tooth and nail right back because I am very proud of what my family did. They lifted people up, they fought for civil rights and they fought for human rights and they fought for education.

If that’s so offensive to them, then they’re going to have to deal with me for a long time.

BW But what people — especially your Democratic supporters — don’t understand is where you are now — running neck-and-neck with Ehrlich after beginning the race with a huge head start. Can you enlighten us?

KKT I’ll tell you the truth. When we heard Ehrlich was getting into the race, we said, ‘Oh, polls will even up by September because people will want a race.’ And when they did even up, people said we were doing a bad job. People kept criticizing me, ‘You haven’t been tough, you haven’t been tough.’

Was it painful? Yes. Was it unpleasant? Yes. You could intellectually understand what’s happening, but there’s a difference between intellectualizing it and feeling the pain.

I’m in a fight — this is a tough campaign.

BW So you think we’re beyond the process and into the substance?

KKT Touché. Now people are willing to talk about the issues. They’d rather talk about the process in July and August, because if they talked about the issues, they’d see how terrible he is.

BW To talk about the issues, people tell us that they don’t know what you stand for yet …

KKT I know …

BW So where should we look?

KKT I’m out there. I go to community meetings all the time. But if people don’t cover it, it’s hard to know. So we’ll be on TV. You’ll see on TV that I want to protect Chesapeake Bay, while Congressman Ehrlich …

BW Ads on television?

KKTYes, and one of the things we’re doing is running an ad that deals with dumping toxics in Chesapeake Bay.

People will also hear me on radio. I’ve been on five radio talk shows this week. And we’ve had one debate.

BW Now that you’re getting the word out, tell our readers what you stand for.

KKT I stand for a progressive vision of Maryland. For quality education for our children — and that includes early childhood education, teacher training, principals who can focus on education rather than leaking roofs, making sure kids learn basics and also character education: right from wrong and respect for others.

I believe in expanding our health care, particularly in providing prescription drugs for 200,000 seniors — and I’ve got a plan on how to do it — as well as expanding our coverage of parents of our welfare children, who have been covered over the last eight years. More mental health money, more money for drug treatment and HIV.

Three, I believe that we need to protect Chesapeake Bay, which means more investment in sewage treatment plants and cleaning up our streams.

Fourth, we need to continue our economic growth. We’ve already gone from 41st among states to 15th in job creation, and we have the second-highest family income of any state in the country. We need to continue the progress we’ve made there.

And five, we need a diverse and inclusive administration that reflects Maryland’s strength, which is our diversity.

I have a 32-page detailed blueprint as well as a plan for how to balance the budget, which has been called detailed and specific and has the assent of many of our legislative and fiscal leaders. I have a plan on health care.

BW So to draw the distinctions, your opponent …

KKT In contrast, my opponent does not have a plan for what he wants to do as governor. When he issued a plan on the budget, which is the most important issue we’re facing, a newspaper called it half-baked and written on a paper napkin.

I’ve got a real plan. I’ve got a plan, I’ve got the competency, and I’ve got the vision for Maryland that says we’re a great state, we can do important things — and I can do it. I am in touch with Maryland values, which are to protect Chesapeake Bay, to protect education, to fund social security, not to slash Medicare.

I really do believe this, and I care very deeply. I’m running to do something, to make a difference, I’m not running for the heck of it, to throw stones and complain. I’m running because I believe we really can do great things.

So I think there’s a big difference between us.

Most offensive of all his votes to me is that he boasts of how he got scholarships to Princeton, and then, when he gets to Congress, he votes to cut $4 million from scholarship aid. I believe one of the most important things we can provide is a future, and a future requires education.

BW Your opponent has said that he thinks intangibles such as character are as important in this election as tangibles, such as solving the budget shortfall. How does that strike you?

KKT As extremely demeaning to Maryland voters.

BW As far as courage, whoever winds up as governor could very well need quite a bit of it given the direction the economy seems to be going. A lot of the initiatives you’ve laid out would be easier with money.

KKT I’m optimistic, I believe the economy will come back. I believe that Maryland is better situated than almost any other state in the country to take advantage of this economy. We have a diverse economy to start off with. In an information-based economy, we have the highest percentage of professional and technical workers of any state. We have the second-highest number of BAs and PhDs in math and science. We’re going to do well.

If you look historically at how long recessions last, it’s about 18 months, and we’ve been in it for awhile, and I think we will come back.

And if we don’t, I say you would rather have me as governor making those decisions than my opponent, because I would do it in a way to preserve Maryland values, and he would not.

BW What are the components of Kathleen Kennedy Townsend’s victory on November 5?

KKT I work hard, and people are willing to listen now. That’s what they’re going to have to do. Then they’re going to have to say, ‘Who should we trust, who has been true to their values?’

The people say, ‘Who are you, Mr. Ehrlich?’ They don’t have to say that about me.

BW Just one more election promise. If you’re elected, would you turn Comptroller Schaeffer’s fountain back on?

KKTYes. I would not only turn on the fountain, if I ever get this budget back, I want to build lots of fountains. I love fountains, it just lifts your spirits to see water up in the air.

Copyright 2002
Bay Weekly