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Monday, June 20, 2005

Reason to Run

I was going to write a bit about the long article in this morning’s Post about Governor Ehrlich’s new chief of staff, but then I saw a mention in Al Kamen’s “In the Loop” column about Ellen Sauerbrey, a two-time MD gubernatorial candidate and former state legislator. It seems that not only is she being considered for an assistant secretary of state position on refugees, she is already a ambassador to a UN organization on the same issue.

Now, without seeing Sauerbrey’s credentials, it would be irresponsible of me to delve into whether she is qualified to represent the United States around the world on this important matter. I am not interested in doing so. On the other hand, it does seem reasonable that, above and beyond the skills she gained from her experience in Maryland politics, something is probably at play.

And that leads me to answer a question posed recently about why Howard Denis, Montgomery County’s only Republican councilmember, would even consider running for office (such as the 8th CD) in one of the most Democratic counties in the state, perhaps even the nation. One analyst suggested that doing so would be folly: a risk of his council seat, and a waste of time and energy in a district that no Republican could win.

Obviously movement-building is often a concern when longshot candidates make the race. Most frequently cited is Barry Goldwater’s conservative bid for president, which is believed to have paved the way for Ronald Reagan’s victory in 1980. In the same way, Ellen Sauerbrey may well have set the stage for Bob Ehrlich’s victories by running much stronger races than expected in this heavily Democratic state. Since Denis seems far less concerned with moving a conservative agenda forward than Sauerbrey, is there another reason this might be worth him considering?

Look at how the Bush administration takes care of its movement. Last week’s Post revealed that the Heritage Foundation’s interns are given incredible perks as they are groomed to be the next generation of leadership. In the same way, one cannot help but think that Sauerbrey might have been rewarded with an ambassadorship for taking on long-shot campaigns for governor in a heavily Democratic state. This certainly wouldn’t be the first time that such a thing has happened.

That brings us back to Howard Denis. Now for all I know he is perfectly content being a county councilman, but he would be the rare pol indeed (particularly in the DC area) who is satisfied with his position and not considering his next job. So beyond a real hope of winning higher elected office in MoCo or, dare he dream, statewide, it might just be that someone in Annapolis would like to drive up Republican turnout in this county and would be willing to reward the man who did so with a plum job, should he fail to win. It's even possible that a Republican administration in Washington would reward someone who did something for the movement.