Paul Schurick and his equally hip-looking daughter, Alison, at the Mitchell Courthouse.

Paul Schurick and his equally hip-looking daughter, Alison, at the Mitchell Courthouse. (Amy Davis)

Is it just me, or is Paul Schurick looking a lot cooler now that he's on the hot seat?

The longtime aide to former Governors Bob Ehrlich and William Donald Schaefer always came off as a buttoned-down bureaucrat to me. Until I saw him in April at Schaefer's funeral.

He said hello outside the church and for a moment, I didn't recognize him. This is a guy I've lunched with a several times. He's someone I know well enough to have swapped recipes with him. (Schurick may prove to be a political dirty trickster, but he's also a foodie. He gave me a great Chicken Tikka Masala recipe, which I hereby disclose because the dish is so good it may have clouded by judgment about Schurick. But I digress.)

So I know what Paul Schurick looks like. Or at least I did until he got a buzz cut, sprouted a goatee and donned wrap-around sunglasses. Suddenly he's an older, taller Lance Armstrong.

"This is what getting out of government will do for you," Schurick told me with a laugh.

At the time, I wondered if the new look really was a sign of liberation, or a looming-indictment-induced midlife crisis. Looks like the latter now that Schurick faces criminal charges related to deceptive Election Day robocalls made on behalf of Ehrich's campaign.

He pleaded not guilty in Baltimore Circuit Court Monday. The photo from his court appearance prompted Richard Cross, a former Ehrlich speechwriter and current political blogger, to email me about Schurick's makeover.

Cross thinks the goatee gives Schurick a "Glouchester fisherman vibe." And the buzz cut? "He looks like he's auditioning to join the cast of HBO's "Oz."