When Can A Degree From Princeton Cost You Your Job?

| October 14, 2010 | 3 Comments

The 2010 Governor Race; what Governor Ehrlich needs to do to win and why MD needs him back.

Dear Governor Ehrlich,

The (once) great state of Maryland needs you back. You know it. After all, it’s why you let the citizens and those close to you talk you in to running again in 2010. It’s why, despite the sting from that 2006 election, you decided you’d take on O’Malley one more time. It’s why, despite all the rhetoric and political ads, you truly believe that you’re the best choice to steer our state. Finally, it’s because you and just about everyone of sound mind and body, realize that we Marylanders are not better off than we were 4 years ago, not just as individual citizens (yes, there’s a recession), but mostly as a state.

But that’s where this whole campaign loses its way. When it should be simple, it’s complex. So, Governor Ehrlich, can we put away the signs, the ads, the rhetoric, the mudslinging and just ask the simple, obvious question?

Are you, as a Marylander, better off today than you were 4 years ago???

That’s it.

It’s that simple.

It’s your mantra.

Read and repeat.

It’s like novocaine. It may come on slow, but it works.

Maybe it’s that Princeton education. On an individual level, I get it. My brother graduated from Princeton. There is no greater legion of alumni more capable of over-thinking a simple problem than the Tigers…

To an extent, we all get it. We know that O’Malley plays the sax. We know that he’s got that Kennedy-esque sex appeal that comes from the type of suit, shirt and tie pairings that you detest. We know he thinks more about his complexion in a day than you or anyone should in a lifetime. We know he’s a political artist, that he’s going to take dirty shots at you, that his ads will be largely misleading contortions of fundamental fact. We know he’s going to run more of them than you, that he’s going to target his base and that his ads are going to be sexier contortions of the truth than you are willing or able to put out.

But that’s not the message. The message is much more simple:

Are you, as a Marylander, better off than you were 4 years ago?

We know he’s going to buy every vote he can in Baltimore City with that downtown, “we Democrats know what it’s like in the inner-city” swag. We even know how he’s going to pay for it – using your budget surplus from 2006. Yes, we know you left MD with a budget surplus – despite inheriting a deficit from Glendenning. And, yes, we realize that O’Malley has run up the tab on MD again, burying us in a $1.4B hole. Finally, yes, we know he’s going to keep blaming you, even 4 years later, for having to fix it the only way he knows how, with more taxes…

But that’s not the message. The message is much more simple:

Are you, as a Marylander, better off than you were 4 years ago?

Speaking of taxes, we know that Mr. O’Malley increased our state sales tax by 20%. Yes, 20%. A 20% tax, across the board, on everyone in Maryland, during the “Great Recession”. We know that there’s no excuse for that. We know that you can’t possibly mention it too often. We know it’s a disaster. We even know you have said you wish to repeal it.

But that’s not the message. The message is much more simple:

Are you, as a Marylander, better off than you were 4 years ago?

We know he’s going to run on his education record in Montgomery County. We know he’s going to run ads reminding Marylanders how, even though Montgomery County was going broke, he invested in schools and test scores improved. We know that you did the same thing, only better, because your commitment to education didn’t come with tax increases that pushed everyone who actually PAYS taxes out of Montgomery County (thanks Mr. O’Malley). We know you endorsed the Thornton Plan. We get it, O’Malley wasn’t spending his money on MD schools – he was spending yours.

But that’s not the message. The message is much more simple:

Are you, as a Marylander, better off than you were 4 years ago?

We know that you and Mr. O’Malley are going to take turns blaming each other for the 72% BGE rate hike. We’re just as sure that Mr. O’Malley is going to continue blaming you, even painting you as an energy lobbyist, ignoring the fact that it was you who negotiated the hike down from 72% to 19% – to be phased in over time, back in 2006, when every utility in America was raising rates 50% or more.

But that’s not the message. The message is much more simple:

Are you, as a Marylander, better off than you were 4 years ago?

We even know that O’Malley is going to paint himself as the ‘environmentalist’ in the bunch, as all Democratic candidates somehow manage to do, whether they are or not. We know he’s going to point to his record on the Chesapeake Bay. Yes, we know that was your doing as well. And we know that the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Act, the one YOU signed in 2004, was hailed as the most sweeping environmental legislation in Maryland state history. We know Mr. O’Malley raided it like a kid’s piggy bank when he came up short on the budget.

But that’s not the message. The message is much more simple:

Are you, as a Marylander, better off than you were 4 years ago?

We know Mr. O’Malley is going to flat out lie every time he talks about his ‘pro-business’ economic policies. We know he’s going to appeal to the individual working voter by jumping on the Obama small business bandwagon. We know that, even with everything else listed above, this is by far his greatest departure from the truth. We know that CNBC ranks Maryland in the bottom half of “best states to do business”, even though Washington, DC gives us one of the most stable economic bases in the world and even as our neighboring Virginia ranks #2. We know we’re also ranked #43 (out of 50) in ‘cost of doing business’ and #45 in ‘cost of living’ – in spite of having the 18th strongest overall economy. No, we don’t need a Princeton Economics degree to realize that, when you have a great economy, and you border Washington, DC – which spends money like Paris Hilton on vacation, you should rank higher than #43, and #45.

But EVEN THAT’S not the message. At least not the message that’s going to get you back in the mansion up the street from my house. The message you need to win is much more simple:

Are you, as a Marylander, better off than you were 4 years ago?

So, this is my plea, to you and your campaign. Put away the ads. Scrap ’em. Do what you do best: roll up your sleeves and remind Marylanders what’s at stake here. Remind Marylanders that it’s not about who’s sexier, who dresses better, who can BS and glad-hand better. It’s about the future of our state, about the future of our state’s businesses. It’s about one simple thing: Are you, as a Marylander, better off than you were 4 years ago? That’s all Marylanders need to make their decision. I, for one, know it’s harder today than it was four years ago. I know it will be harder still, in four more years. I know that I, like other local business owners, am looking hard at moving my business out of this state, and I know that’s not what Maryland wants or needs. What Maryland needs is you.

So, Governor Ehrlich, are you better off than you were 4 years ago?

For the sake of our state, let’s hope you can answer that question with a smile this November.

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