Don't risk the security deposit

The Baltimore Sun

One day you've got a mansion, a driver, a primo gig. The next: "No house, no car, no job."

That's how Bob Ehrlich summed up his situation on the radio a couple days after his Election Day defeat.

It's not as bleak as it sounds. For one thing, the Ehrlichs made sure they didn't get used to the "artificial life" of Government House.

"The big joke around here is we have great chefs and I live on energy bars and Rice Krispies," the governor told The Junkies on WHFS Friday.

Which isn't to say Ehrlich doesn't appreciate the stately digs where his family spent the last four years. Before handing the place over to Martin O'Malley, The Junkies said, Ehrlich should let the weeds grow out front and "drop [something that can't be described in a family newspaper] in every room in the mansion." Ehrlich laughed off those ideas.

The outgoing Gov did admit that when Drew made a bad, post-election punt into the bushes, he took the short-timer's way out: "I said, 'Forget it.'"

And Ehrlich did not rule out The Junkies' suggestion that he throw a "10-kegger" at the mansion on New Year's Eve, just days before the moving vans pull up.

"Kendel could go for that," Ehrlich said. "She's in the mood to go for that."

Looking sharp, and clearly in charge

Sheila Dixon held her first presser as the next mayor of Baltimore, and here's what Charm Citizens should know about their new leader: The lady knows how to dress.

Hold the e-mails saying it's sexist to talk about what female politicians wear. I just broke the big story (a Sun Exclusive!) that Martin O'Malley, Bob Ehrlich, Ben Cardin and Michael Steele left their ties in their closets the day after Election Day.

Besides, Dixon looked great.

She wore a black pinstriped pantsuit with a fitted white shirt softened by ruffles. (Think Mrs. Partridge ruffles, but in a good way.) She also wore dark-rimmed glasses, which she took off occasionally. Her hair was in a ponytail, showing off sparkly but understated earrings. She looked like she meant business, without looking mannish or harsh.

Dixon pulled off another balancing act as she announced her transition team, headed by a white male banker with Roman numerals behind his name (Woody Collins III of M&T; Bank) and a black female neighborhood leader (Betty Bland-Thomas of the Sharp-Leadenhall Community Association). Dixon talked about serious issues (safer and cleaner neighborhoods, better schools, economic development), but also made jokes about her age and about having a "senior moment."

The "moment" struck when a reporter asked Dixon about the very first thing that came to mind when she realized O'Malley had won the governor's race and she would move up to mayor. Initially stumped, Dixon came up with this: "I am not giving up my workout. I have to have my workout."

Dixon ducked a question about whom she'll back for council president, giving a generic reply about finding someone who will "keep the same philosophy." But then she pointed out to a room full of reporters that she'd ducked: "So I didn't answer it exactly, specifically."

And she said that with a smile.

Connect the dots

Fire alarms went off last week during the first Mass at the newly restored Basilica of the Assumption. And no, the Save-the-Rochambeau crowd wasn't exacting a little revenge. Someone spilled incense right near an intake vent, activating smoke detectors. The alarm was shut off "in seconds" and hardly anyone noticed, said Archdiocese spokesman Sean Caine. "There was a lot going on, fortunately," he said. "There was a lot of music going on. It wasn't that solemn or still." ... Who was that guy on the front of The Sun's Maryland section Friday, the one who refused to identify himself to the photographer who captured him looking over the shoulder of two election clerks checking absentee ballots in the Anne Arundel County executive's race? He's got a furrowed brow, dark hair - and a face known to people who follow Maryland politics (and the Jack Abramoff scandal): Ed Miller, Governor Ehrlich's deputy chief of staff. ... The Junkies said they knew it was over for Ehrlich when they got the e-mail from his campaign on Election Day, urging supporters to get out and vote. "Our internal poll tracking is showing that turnout is light in our key counties," it said. But Ehrlich set them straight. "To tell you the truth, that was kind of pro forma," Ehrlich said. "We just sent that out because we had the money to do it. ... We didn't have any internal tracking." He added that they did have "anecdotal" evidence from the polls, so the e-mail "wasn't totally bogus." ... The O'Malley camp sent out a similar message, saying, "It looks like turnout is not as high as it needs to be in some of the key precincts." Like Ehrlich's e-mail, the one from O'Malley asks recipients to forward the message to 10 friends and family members. Good to know both sides were eager to spread the truth. ...

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