Former Republican Maryland governor and future Maryland governor wannabe Bob Ehrlich has not yet formally announced his candidacy for that office, and in the meantime is keeping his weekend gig at Hearst Corporation’s WBAL-AM Baltimore.
Democrats in the state have criticized that decision. Allowing a candidate access to airtime can be seen as a like-kind contribution to the candidate’s campaign, but in this case Ehrlich isn’t actually a candidate yet.
His opponent, incumbent Martin O’Malley, decided to get in on Ehrlich’s show – by booking commercial time on it. He used the ad to suggest that Ehrlich is living in “fantasy land” over some of the former governor’s comments about leaving a budget surplus in the state when he left office.
When the show resumed, Ehrlich did not address the content of the ad, but did question why the Democratic Party would buy time on his show when they were complaining that Hearst was in effect subsidizing the Ehrlich campaign.
If Ehrlich is going to run, he has until 7/1/10 to make it official.
RBR-TVBR observation: We don’t know what the gray area is here – when does the wisdom about a person’s candidacy become so conventional that the person is a virtual candidate in the eyes of regulators keeping track of campaign donations, whether in cash or – as in this case – constant valuable media exposure?
Clear Channel got nervous in a similar situation with J.D. Hayworth earlier this year in Phoenix and pulled the plug on him. But it looks like Ehrlich’s going to stick it out to the last possible minute.