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Blog Home Page --> Governor -- Maryland

Kicking Off "Grudge Match," Ehrlich Promises Victory

Bob Ehrlich made his comeback bid official today with a feisty kick-off speech in suburban Washington, promising victory in what promises to be a hard-fought rematch with Gov. Martin O'Malley (D).

Speaking before a couple hundred supporters in downtown Rockville, Ehrlich rattled off a list of questions he says reporters have asked him in recent weeks as he moved to enter the race, including whether the 2010 race would be a "grudge match."

"The last grudge match I had, folks, was in middle school. And I won," Ehrlich said. "We're used to winning."

ehrlich.jpg

In his 10-minute kickoff speech, the former governor criticized the direction state government has taken since he left office after his 2006 defeat. He asked rhetorically what have we seen in Annapolis since then, prompting a supporter to shout: "Tax increases!" Ehrlich laughed, promising the man was not a plant. He then spoke of "unending excuses and limitless bailouts from the federal government," a reference to the stimulus plan which helped Maryland and other states close budget deficits.

Continue reading "Kicking Off "Grudge Match," Ehrlich Promises Victory" »

Ehrlich Reportedly To Seek Re-Match Against O'Malley

Ending months of speculation, WJLA-TV here in Washington is reporting that former Gov. Bob Ehrlich (R) will soon announce his comeback attempt, setting up a rematch with Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) this fall.

The source indicated Ehrlich would formally announce his bid Wednesday, April 7, in Rockville, followed by an event at his childhood home in Arbutus.

Other potential Republican candidates, who had said they'd defer to Ehrlich, had recently bowed out. But Ehrlich stoked questions about his commitment to the race by recently floating a challenge to Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D), also up for re-election this year. An Ehrlich spokesman would not confirm the report.

"We'll decline to comment on each new date that hits the rumor circuit. Bob Ehrlich is very grateful for the interest and will make his intentions known at the right time," Henry Fawell tells RCP.

O'Malley, elected with 53 percent of the vote against the then-incumbent in 2006, currently leads Ehrlich by 7.3 percent in the RCP Average. He has been readying for a tough campaign regardless of his opponent.

"Whoever runs, they start at 40 percent and we know we're going to have a vigorous campaign because of the extent of the economic pain that everybody in our state's feeling," O'Malley told RCP while in Washington last month. But anticipating Ehrlich as a foe, he said his rival would have to explain why state spending increased 33 percent in his term, but decreased under the current administration and how "their old worn out frames apply to the new challenging realities."

Maryland Democrats, meanwhile, are armed and ready for his return, having launched this Web site.

MD Gov Poll: O'Malley Maintains Lead Over Ehrlich

When we last heard from former Gov. Bob Ehrlich (R), he said the results of the New Jersey governor election were encouraging to him as he considered a potential rematch in 2010 with Gov. Martin O'Malley. Surely the result in Massachusetts last night give him further reason to jump back into the fray in equally blue Maryland. But a new poll from Gonzales Research (816 RVs, 1/13-17, MoE +/- 3.5%) shows that Ehrlich would start with some ground to make up.

General Election Matchup
O'Malley (D) 48 (-1 vs. last poll, 9/8-17)
Ehrlich (R) 39 (+1)
Und 13 (unch)

Independents, which have swung overwhelmingly to Republicans in the elections in Massachusetts, New Jersey and Virginia, still narrowly favor O'Malley by a margin of 39-36 percent. When Ehrlich was elected governor in 2002, he received support from 30 percent of Democrats. This poll shows only 16 percent would cross and support the Republican this time.

Both President Obama and O'Malley have maintained positive job approval scores, though O'Malley remains below 50 percent -- a red flag for any incumbent. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D), also facing re-election this fall, remains immensely popular.

Job Approval
Pres. Obama 56 / 30
O'Malley 46 / 36
Mikulski 64 / 23

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'09 Results May Push Ehrlich Toward Re-Match

Big wins for the GOP in last week's gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey may have been a tipping point for another Beltway-area Republican considering a run in 2010: Bob Ehrlich.

The former Maryland governor has said he's strongly considering a rematch against Martin O'Malley, the former Baltimore mayor who beat Ehrlich in a hard-fought 2006 campaign. The huge swing of independents toward the GOP in Virginia and New Jersey last week is just the kind of news Ehrlich was looking for.

"Independents, as you know, pretty much decide races these days," Ehrlich told his hometown Arbutus Times this week. Ehrlich, who in 2002 made history by becoming the Old Line State's first Republican governor in four decades, was especially encouraged by GOPer Chris Christie's victory in strongly Democratic New Jersey. "It's a blue state, a lot of labor, very organized Democratic Party, so it's a tough state for Republicans to win. So Christie winning there, it's a pretty big deal," Ehrlich said.

Two other, lesser-known Republicans have been preparing for a potential run in Maryland, but both have said they would defer to Ehrlich, who enjoyed strong favorable ratings even as he lost his re-election bid. One state Republican who is running for Congress in 2010 speculated the odds were now better than even that Mr. Ehrlich would make the race.

Even with GOP victories this fall, success in Maryland is far from guaranteed in 2010. A Clarus Poll released this week showed O'Malley leading Ehrlich 47-40 in a hypothetical matchup. But like other incumbents in both parties, Gov. O'Malley might find himself weighed down next year by a still-bad economy, offsetting any partisan advantage in the heavily-Democratic state. If Team O'Malley is worried, though, his campaign manager didn't let on in a memo to supporters this week. "Frankly, it doesn't matter who the Republicans settle on. We'll be prepared for them, and we will beat them," Tom Russell wrote.

Ehrlich: Still No Timeline For 2010 Decision

Former Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich (R) says he still has "no timeline" for a decision about whether to run again in 2010, and feels no "undue pressure" from anyone to get off the fence anytime soon.

"I think I've earned that right, by the way," said Ehrlich, who was the first Republican governor in the Free State in more than 30 years when he was elected in 2002.

The race, which would be a rematch against incumbent Gov. Martin O'Malley (D), is "certainly something that we're looking at," Ehrlich said.

"There's been a lot of polls out there, public and private and all that, and it appears that we're in pretty good standing right now with the people of Maryland," he said. "It's certainly nice with respect to our legacy. Whether it means anything for the future remains to be seen."

Lawrence Hogan, Ehrlich's former appointments secretary, announced he'd explore a bid this week. Del. Pat McDonough (R) is also looking at the race. But both would likely defer to Ehrlich.

Ehrlich's comments came on an RNC conference call to counter President Obama's event in College Park, Md., today.

Ehrlich Fixing For A Rematch?

Former Gov. Bob Ehrlich (R-Md.) launched a new Web site today, fueling speculation that he may be setting the stage for another statewide run in the Free State next year.

The site certainly has the feel of a campaign site, with a picture of Ehrlich beside the slogan "Our Maryland: Always worth fighting for." Visitors can sign up to be on a mailing list and "Join the Team." And a "Latest News" page features a number of links to stories promoting Ehrlich's work, and others that are critical of the Democratic agenda, both locally and nationally. A footer on the site says that it is paid for by the "Bob Ehrlich for Maryland Committee."

Greg Massoni, an Ehrlich spokesperson, said not to read too much into the new Web site, saying it's just another vehicle to promote the former governor's radio show, TV appearances and books.

"It's still way to early to predict whether or not he's going to run for anything," Massoni said. But he added: "It's safe to say that Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and Martin O'Malley make it interesting to keep the option alive."

In 2002, Ehrlich became the first Republican elected governor in Maryland since Spiro Agnew. Despite strong favorability ratings, he lost a tough re-election battle to then-Baltimore Mayor O'Malley by six points in 2006, when Democrats rode a national wave and retook control of Congress. O'Malley's approval rating has rebounded after dipping as low as the 30s in 2008.

Ehrlich would certainly be less inclined to seek a rematch in the still heavily-Democratic state if his successor had higher numbers. Another option could be the U.S. Senate, with some questioning whether Barbara Mikulski will seek another term. An open seat could spur a free-for-all among Democratic officeholders, potentially creating another opening for Ehrlich, himself a former member of Congress.