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New Ehrlich-Kane ticket visits Baltimore charter

Freshly chosen lieutenant governor candidate Mary Kane accompanied former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. to a Baltimore charter school this afternoon, their second public appearance since teaming up last night. They were in Silver Spring this morning.

The Republican duo had a private tour of the all-male Bluford Drew Jemison STEM Academy on East Biddle Street and then spoke briefly to a handful of supporters and reporters gathered on the basketball court. The visit was arranged by Baltimore city councilman Carl Stokes, who attended school in that building. But the Democrat made himself scarce during the public part of the event.

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Ehrlich, who as governor pushed the state's first charter school law through the General Assembly, has vowed to double the number of charters if elected this fall. His likely opponent, Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley, has pointed to the marked increase in charters approved during his tenure.

After the tour of Bluford Drew Jemison, Ehrlich praised himself and the legislature for passing a charter school law, saying "this place celebrates the success of policy calls made in the great state of Maryland."

Kane, a Montgomery County resident who served as Ehrlich's secretary of state, also spoke highly of the school. "When you come to a place like this, you know that state government can work."

As he did this morning, Ehrlich dismissed questions about Kane raised by the Maryland Democratic Party -- most of which relate to legal troubles her husband faces.

"We should focus on what people want us to focus on," he said, adding that the party "files complaints about us on a daily basis."

John Kane is accused in a federal lawsuit of fraudulent billing. He did not pay his workers as much as he told the government he would, according to the suit. Mary Kane said the lawsuit affects her "as a wife," but she said she was not involved in the day-to-day company operations.

Asked how he can reclaim the governor's office in a state where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 2-to-1, Ehrlich said, "We are not intimidated."

He later acknowledged that he needs to post better numbers in Baltimore than he did in 2006, when he lost to O'Malley. In the city where he had been mayor, O'Malley logged a more than 25 percentage-point win over Ehrlich, a Baltimore County native.

He has also said he must do better in Montgomery County. Republican activists there praised his choice of Kane, saying it is sure to energize the county GOP. But Ehrlich said he believes Kane can help him "generally."

"She's a familiar face and a capable person," he said. He has said the leading reason he selected Kane is because he knows and trusts her. "She's part of the family."

Ehrlich and Kane will attend a Charles County Republican dinner tonight and file with the State Board of Elections tomorrow afternoon in Annapolis. Campaign spokesman Andy Barth reports that they'll also be hitting the Washington-area television and radio circuit tomorrow.

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