Not on the air, and already a rebuttal


Message to the folks behind Bob Ehrlich's campaign ads: If you want to sell him as the stem cell governor, and keep that sure-to-be-challenged message under wraps until the TV spots air, don't film on a city street. Especially not right by a Saturn with a Paula Hollinger bumper sticker. The Saturn owner, who works for EMILY's List, is bound to quit washing her car and start jotting down notes on a Dunkin' Donuts napkin.

Then again, please do all that. Because that way, I can give readers a heads-up about the campaign ads to come.

"Bob Ehrlich showed great leadership on stem cells," two faux persons-on-the-street told the camera in Canton on Saturday. They also talked about taxes, fully funding every school and the governor's "bold plan to clean up the bay." There were slogans: "Maryland is on the move." "Bob Ehrlich - still changing Maryland for the better." And "Bob Ehrlich governs not from the right or the left, but the center, where we are."

It was the stem cell bit that stuck in the craw of Martha McKenna, the car-washer-turned-napkin-scribe, who said she has followed the issue for years in the General Assembly, in part because of friends and family members with diabetes and other diseases. She's also a supporter of Hollinger, a Baltimore County senator who was sponsor of the Senate bill. And McKenna is director of campaign services for EMILY's List, the biggest political action committee in the nation, which endorsed Hollinger's bid for Congress.

"Stem cell research was the only thing they had both people say," McKenna said. "The whole thing was hypocritical from start to finish."

Ehrlich opposed the stem cell research bill that passed the General Assembly last session but then signed the legislation in April. Critics accused him of trying to co-opt a popular issue. Early in the session, Ehrlich had proposed tens of millions for research and a research center. But the administration sent mixed messages about whether that could be spent to study embryonic stem cells.

So, will stem cells really feature prominently in Ehrlich's re-election effort? My calls to the campaign weren't returned yesterday.

But if that's the message, Hollinger hopes voters don't buy it. "I don't think anybody believes he had any part in this," she said. "If he cared that much about that issue, then he should have helped us get it passed and not have it hang out there for two years."

Love blooms in the Middle East

Councilman Keiffer Mitchell wins the prize for the most far-flung 2b submission. He phoned yesterday from Jerusalem, where he's on a mission with the Baltimore Jewish Council, with a juicy tidbit about two members of the delegation. Otis Rolley, the city's planning director, proposed to Charline Gilbert, senior executive assistant to Mayor Martin O'Malley. Mitchell's message (he got my voice mail) didn't say whether she accepted, but the mayor's office confirms that she did.

He needs to buy the economy size?

News from "the rich are just like you and me" department: That dark-haired man quietly stocking up on paper goods at Target in Towson Saturday morning was none other than Mayo Shattuck, chairman and CEO of Constellation Energy Group. My spies tell me Shattuck, in a dark blue shirt and jeans, was accompanied by his three youngest children.

Connect the dots

John Sarbanes' campaign says he's filing for Congress today, putting to rest any attorney general rumors. ... Andrea Koshko of White Marsh, the stem cell research advocate whose diabetic daughter received a well-intentioned gift of chocolate from the governor's office, filed this week for House of Delegates in District 8. ... A schedule of political fundraisers that is making the rounds says that Ehrlich will appear in Clarksville with Sen. Sandy Schrader June 12 for a "special announcement" and volunteer appreciation reception. Could word on his LG pick be coming?

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