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Ehrlich ready to announce his No. 2?


What's Bob Ehrlich up to next week? Looks like he'll just be "downy ocean," if you go by the public schedule released by the governor's office Friday, which listed only a town hall meeting at the Ocean Pines Yacht Club. But you can expect him to turn up at his boyhood home in Arbutus on Wednesday - and not for an early Fourth of July cookout. Sources say Ehrlich and a campaign flatbed will pull up to the rowhouse where his parents live to trumpet the obvious: He's running for re-election.

But will Ehrlich tell us something we don't already know (at least not for sure) - his choice for LG? A person close to the administration says he's gotten mixed signals about whether Wednesday's show will be a twofer.

Plenty of potential candidates have churned through Maryland's political rumor mill in recent months, but the name on everyone's lips late last week was Kristen Cox, secretary of Maryland's Department of Disabilities. She'd be an unusual - possibly historic - pick for one reason: She is legally blind.

"She would be a wonderful choice," said John Pare, spokesman for the National Federation of the Blind, where Cox once worked as a "very capable, very articulate, very smart" governmental affairs advocate. "We're not aware of a blind person being a governor or lieutenant governor, so it would be just terrific."

Asked about Cox, Ehrlich campaign spokeswoman Shareese DeLeaver said: "We are not commenting."

What does Cox say about all the talk? Wish I knew. No answer at her Towson home, and her office said she was on vacation until Tuesday.

Getting a little R&R; with the family - she is married with two sons, according to the department Web site - before a busy summer of campaigning?

The BGE bill flip-flop

About a dozen Maryland lawmakers flip-flopped on the BGE bill last week, voting to sustain Ehrlich's veto even though they'd voted in favor of the bill a week earlier. Annapolis wags talked of handing out "John Kerry I-voted-for-it-before-I-voted-against-it" awards. Senate President Mike Miller gave one of the flippers a compliment instead. A spy tells me he sidled up to state Sen. Sandra Schrader, a Howard County Republican who has also been mentioned as an Ehrlich running mate, and said, "Lieutenant Governor?" At least I think he meant that as a compliment.

Must have been something he ate

Reports of William Donald Schaefer's illness have been greatly exaggerated, says spokesman Mike Golden, who was demanding a correction late last week from The Washington Post for reporting that the comptroller had recently been hospitalized with pneumonia.

Illness is a touchy subject when you're 84 and running for office, and Golden says the report is just not true. The story started after first lady Kendel Ehrlich presented Schaefer with a cake at a Board of Public Works meeting to celebrate his overcoming a recent illness, which her husband referred to as the flu, Golden says. The governor got it wrong, too, says Golden, who says Schaefer had food poisoning - and wasn't hospitalized.

"He got a bad oyster," Golden says. "Must not have been from Maryland."

Connect the dots

Mount Vernonites Philip Baty and Ron Peltzer throw a party for 150 of their closest friends this afternoon. The occasion? The 110th birthday of Wallis Warfield Simpson, who grew up a few doors down on East Biddle Street. "Casual attire - outrageous jewelry required," the invitation says. ... The governor can't keep us in suspense too much longer on his LG pick. Even if that pesky July 3 filing deadline wasn't looming, something else would force his hand: the Dundalk Fourth of July Parade. "If you're not in the Dundalk parade in an election year...," one longtime Annapolitan tells me, his voice trailing off. "They expect to see you. They notice absence."

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