Thursday, February 10, 2005

Whom to Believe

A casual stroll past Maryland Republican headquarters in Annapolis makes it clear who both the sitting Governor and his Party fear in 2006. Hint: It's not Doug Duncan, the Democratic County Executive of Montgomery County. The bay window at GOP HQ rotates messages every month or so trying to tear down the sitting Mayor of Baltimore, Martin O'Malley (D). Apparently the billboard was only one strategy among many, utilized by the Mayor's opponents. Republican "hatchet-man", and Ehrlich aide, Joseph Steffen, was recently canned by the Gov for having the audacity to get caught spreading rumors that O'Malley had been cheating on his wife. Can anyone say "assassin politics"?

The more we learn about Steffen, the clearer it becomes that he's one of the most odious figures in Maryland Republican politics, an accomplishment to be sure. Steffen, who describes himself as "the Prince of Darkness", appears to be essentially a poor man's Karl Rove, an unscrupulous political operative, willing to do anything to see that his clients are victorious. Maryland's own Prince of Insufficient Light, if you will.

Ehrlich, who has employed Steffen in one form or another since 1995, and who ordered his dismissal, has been quoted as calling Steffen "a character." A character indeed. Several of Ehrlich's past opponents for Congress confirmed that Steffen was basically, "the guy who does the stuff so Bob can pretend to be above the fray." Sounds about right. Good thing he blew his cover before he had the chance to bug his own office and blame it on Sarbanes.

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