Monday, February 21, 2011

Insults, Bruised Feelings, and the ICC

So, I have gotten feedback that some of the Ehrlich Administration alumni who attended the ICC kickoff event today are unhappy that they did not receive due credit from their Democratic hosts for getting the highway built.

Former MDOT Secretary Bob Flanagan was the GOP’s point man for the event. I’m told that he was invited by the O’Malley Administration, and told he could invite others from Team Ehrlich as well. He reached out to former Chief of Staff David Marks, Deputy Secretary Trent Kittleman, and Secretary of State Mary Kane. Apparently, when they arrived, they had to scout out their own seating, as places had not been reserved for them.

As for former Governor Ehrlich himself, he did in fact attend at the invitation of Bob Flanagan. He arrived in his black Chevy Suburban with body man Greg Massoni, former Baltimore County campaign Field Director Joe Sliwka, and two younger aides. Personally I think the whole entourage thing is getting a little old, but that’s neither here nor there.

When the program started, Governor O’Malley, Lieutenant Governor Brown, and the other Democratic speakers kept their credit and their praise in the family, so to speak. There was no shout out to Ehrlich or his team. In effect, Ehrlich was treated as a sort of a Duke of Windsor figure shuffling among disapproving members of the ruling class. Like the late Duke, whose abdication roiled the British monarchy just as Ehrlich's election did the state's Democratic political establishment, Ehrlich's presence at an official event is occasionally tolerated because his absence would have been only slightly more uncomfortable.

I think this is all sad and unfortunate. Still, I cannot seem to get as worked up about it as the attendee with whom I spoke.

First, all of this was eminently predictable. Of course the Democratic establishment wants to claim credit for the project. Of course Team O’Malley does not want to share credit with the man against whom they ran and won two contentious campaigns. Could they have afforded to show more magnanimity? Certainly. But expecting them to in light of the history seems a little na├»ve.

Second, why should anyone care what happened at an obscure press conference few Marylanders will ever hear about or remember? The reason the ICC was built is because Bob Ehrlich prioritized it, and received valuable support and assistance from President George W. Bush, County Executive Doug Duncan, Secretary Flanagan, and others. The O’Malley Administration completed the work started by their predecessors. But I believe people in Montgomery County and elsewhere know the prime mover was Bob Ehrlich.

This kind of thing is not unprecedented in Maryland politics. I remember when Parris Glendening announced the Browns/Ravens were coming to Maryland, thanks to a deal Governor Schaefer crafted. When Glendening failed to invite Schaefer to the announcement, Schaefer showed up anyway and stood quietly with the fans. People got the message.

The ICC was the single most consequential development coming out of Maryland’s brief experiment with two party government. Governor Ehrlich and his team deserve the lion’s share of credit. I hope they get it. But, it is silly for them to stand around blithely waiting for the Democrats to give it to them.


  1. Well, I guess palling around with people who call you a Nazi (Ehrlich) isn't quite as bad as palling around with Nazis (the Duke), but after the robocall fiasco, I'm not sure too many Republicans want to be seen with the guy, so I'm not sure I can blame the Dems for not wanting to acknowledge him.

  2. In the end, no one will remember who did what.

    People have already forgotten about who brought the Ravens to town. They will soon forget who made the ICC.

  3. Montgomery County residents will remember who built the ICC because it's generational in how long it was on the books. Ehrlich deserves credit on it as does Bush and Duncan as you mentioned. It's a beautiful road. Too bad it's high-tolled, but still will help a lot in the future for the region.