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Ehrlich: I’m just looking, thanks

(Dec. 11, 2014)  He won’t do it. You read it here first.
Former Gov. Bob Ehrlich is having fun — with us and with himself, right? He’s made a couple of trips to New Hampshire. People are polite to him. The group he meets with likes his message: loves the Constitution, hates Obamacare, hails the tea party.
Gee, wonder what side of the political spectrum he’d be on?
Don’t get excited. He’s not running for president.
He’s too into his kids. Their sports, their lives, their need for a father. Running is too hard. It takes time. You have to be on the road a lot.
So what’s he doing?
A few thoughts from a relatively small spectrum of well-informed sources.
A Republican:
– Watching Larry Hogan win was probably a bittersweet pill to swallow. He’d been telling people that he, Ehrlich, was the last GOP governor Maryland would ever have.
– He wasn’t ready for his career to end when it did and is now looking for different paths for it to resume.
– It gives him “ink,” which boosts his speaking fees.
A Democrat, in a similar vein:
– It’s ludicrous, of course. But his problem is, with Hogan’s election, he’s now “officially irrelevant” in Maryland. He’s no longer the titular head of the party, nor does he have a major voice in anything.
– Not to mention that he told anyone who would listen that if he couldn’t get elected governor of Maryland, no Republican could.
Another Republican:
– It’s fun to be in the discussion about who’s in the discussion. But he can’t be serious.
– This is a guy who’s been in the game (sports or politics) all his life. He’s been on the sidelines for the last seven years. He doesn’t like being on the sidelines.
– It’s fun. People invite you to New Hampshire, pay for your hotel room. Welcome you the way you remember fans welcoming you. What’s not to like?
– Easy to do, particularly if you know you’re not serious.
What he also knows is that the fun doesn’t last. The rest of the field will be all over you with opposition research: What did you really accomplish as governor? Why couldn’t you get re-elected? Was that flush tax you favored really a fee, as you insisted? Came out of someone’s pocket, so it probably was a tax.
The press would want to know if you are the sort of driven, obsessed — and serious — candidate that running for president demands. Marylanders would tell them that Ehrlich didn’t have the work ethic. They would say, as the New Hampshire folks said: “Nice guy, good talker …” But no visionary, no idea guy, a bit too ideological to make a good general election candidate.
But maybe the naysayers are all wrong. Maybe Ehrlich thinks Hogan’s win will make the kingmakers take a look at him.
He could try that if he were serious, but he’s not.
If he were to run, he and Gov. Martin O’Malley would give us a bipartisan team in the two primaries. If. One or both could easily be out by then.
Pity, in a way. Maryland hasn’t had a lot of contenders on the national stage — and even when we have, as in Vice President Spiro Agnew’s case, it wasn’t a good thing. He resigned in a cloud of corruption.
There was Albert C. Ritchie, the four-term, 1920s and 1930s conservative Democratic governor who could have gotten on FDR’s ticket but chose not to. They were poles apart in government philosophy.
So is Ehrlich back in the game? His picture was in The Wall Street Journal this week. Maybe he’s back in the rainmaker game — the game that brings clients who like to do business with ex-senators and ex-governors.
He’s probably serious about that.