Wednesday, February 19, 2014

ANT Revealed

So, I must admit…I’m on Facebook a lot. And I get a lot of questions from people based on some of my more cryptic posts.

The two most frequently asked questions are:

1) Who is this Felicite character you keep bantering with?

2) Who or what is “ANT”?

As for the first question, that’s probably best answered in a book rather than a blog post, other than to say she’s a lovable, wonderful, sometimes zany friend of mine. 

But I am now prepared to answer the second question.

I mean…not that it’s a state secret. As people have asked me I have told them…but you kind of have to have had some level of involvement in Maryland politics to fully get the joke. 

Anyway…drumroll please…

“ANT” is Aaron N. Tomarchio, departing chief of staff to Harford County Executive David Craig. Tomarchio, who has served in that capacity since 2006, is leaving to accept the position of Director of Corporate Affairs for Erickson Living.



I first met ANT when we served together during the Ehrlich Administration. Aaron was chief of staff to Maryland Planning Department Secretary Audrey Scott, a frequent subject of this blog.  

Tomarchio had all the qualities I have witnessed in every good chief of staff I’ve encountered in politics: efficiency, loyalty, diligence, and a penchant for balancing disparate personalities.

Tomarchio’s affability inspired me and another Ehrlich Administration chief of staff – David Marks, then at MDOT and now a Baltimore County Councilman – to speculate as to whether Aaron’s nice guy image masked a dark side. 

In a playful, tongue-in-cheek way, we wondered if, perhaps in some parallel universe, Aaron was in reality a feared, sinister political boss that ruled Harford County with an iron fist.

Think Ernst Blofeld meets Boss Tweed meets Vlad Tepes, and you’ll get an idea of what I mean.

I guess the concept was loosely inspired by a classic SNL sketch in which Phil Hartman portrayed Ronald Reagan as a secret micro-manager and mastermind, as opposed to the genial septuagenarian everyone remembers.

Anyway, our silly musings grew to the point that every time something bad happened – either in Harford County or globally – it was due to the machinations of “ANT.”

A car accident occurs in Joppa: ANT.

A freak weather event happens halfway across the world: ANT.


A space probe fails millions of miles away in space: ANT.

Someone’s cat turns up missing: ANT.

Marks and I had a lot of fun designing a back story around ANT’s sinister alter ego. For example, we speculated that, during the ANT regime, the HEAT Center in Aberdeen had become something akin to the “Ministry of Love” in 1984. We envisioned dozens of men in lab coats worked there, carrying out the will of the all-powerful ANT such as one would see in a James Bond film. 

Anyway, one has to have met Aaron to really get the joke. As for him, he was an exceptionally good sport about it, even as his dark mythology grew and more people keyed in on the joke. 

For the most part, that is.

Anyway, Tomarchio served County Executive Craig well, and I wish him the best in his new endeavor. 

That said, if I go missing tomorrow…you know who’s behind it.  

(I’m kidding).

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