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November 19, 2009

Ehrlich: Money not a problem in 2010

Former Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich raised $18 million for his unsuccessful re-election campaign in 2006. But if he seeks a rematch next year against incumbent Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley, he expects to collect considerably less.

Ehrlich put a $10 million to $12 million price tag on it during an interview in his downtown Baltimore office today (that figure isn't exactly breaking news--it's been attributed previously to anonymous Republican sources, though not necessarily to Ehrlich himself).

What may be more telling, though, is that Ehrlich is saying money wouldn't be a problem if he ran. Recent commentary from Republican activists and political analysts about a 2010 Ehrlich campaign has focused on money and the imperative for Ehrlich to start raising it now.

Some of those pushing him to get in have pointed to the time-consuming demands of fund-raising as a big reason for action. Ehrlich himself, according to various reports, had been saying that whether he could raise enough money was one of the main conditions that would have to be met before he decided to run.

But the prospective candidate insisted today that he doesn't see a problem building a $10 million to $12 million pot (obviously, it's tougher to attract donations when you aren't a sitting governor, which is why O'Malley is very likely to wind up as the big spender next year).

Ehrlich also says that $10 million to $12 million would be enough.

Ehrlich points out that 2010 would be a "truncated campaign." There's a limit, he said, to how much he could effectively spend in a contest that took less than one year from start to finish.

Chatting in his spectacular 13th-floor corner office that overlooks the baseball diamond at Oriole Park, the 51-year-old ex-governor (he turns 52 the day before Thanksgiving) offered a dispassionate assessment of the option he faces.

He's figured out who his likely swing-vote targets will be (white women and, to a lesser extent, African-American men). And it's clear, from public and private polls, that O'Malley is potentially vulnerable.

Over the past two weeks, since he became more public about his 2010 deliberations, Ehrlich says interest in his activities has "quadrupled," from grassroots Republicans and the news media.

And Ehrlich is continuing to do many of the things that a candidate would do. He's popping up around the state at political events (he headlined a local Republican fund-raising dinner in Aberdeen on Monday) and keeping his national profile alive (he's got a Fox News shot tomorrow on Sean Hannity's show in New York).

In the end, though, it all boils down to numbers. A recent statewide poll showed him 7 percentage points back of O'Malley, the same spread as the 2006 general election. Then there are the external numbers: as the economy continues to sputter, incumbents like O'Malley look increasingly vulnerable, even in a deep blue state where Democratic candidates start out with a huge advantage.

Ehrlich says his decision will ultimately turn on the answer to this question: "Do enough people want me to be governor again?" In other words: Can he win?

It's clear that Ehrlich would relish the opportunity to avenge his 2006 defeat. Losing again would only cost him his pride this time, instead of his job. But he's a hard-headed pragmatist, not a romantic fool, with little appetite for hopeless causes.

Posted by Paul West at 1:38 PM | | Comments (13)
Categories: Candidate Watch 2010


I think "hopeless cause" pretty much sums up the Ehrlich years, and boy are we paying for it now!

Do us all a favor Bobby - stick with your gig trying to reinvent history rather than attempting to repeat it.

Ehrlich is the man.

As a state employee, we need you back Governor us NOW!

Raising the state tax from 5% to 6% was bad enough, what will the history of O'Malley say about him...perhaps that he left the state a wreak!

Donna - I beg to differ. The sales tax hike was an attempt at closing the structural deficit left by Ehrlich! Ehrlich hid it with raised taxes and fees and accounting tricks for a few years, and as soon as the Bush recession hit, O'Malley was left holding the bag. So instead of wishing away the problem like Schwarzenegger or others, he acted. May not have been popular, but it fixed the structural problem.

I know furloughs stink. But you know how Ehrlich would solve the problem? You'd be unemployed. Pick your poison, Donna.

Scott could you list the OMalley accomplishments of the last 4 years?
I truly cannot find any as this state continues to tax its residents into the stone age.

Here's one: partnership with the the State of Virginia to bring back the Chesapeake Blue Crab. Well done. We need to keep those partnerships and moratoriums in place to truly restore the bay and make sure the blue crab population comes back.

Agreed BIG OIL on the blue crabs. I will give the devil his due there.
Scott the structural defecit was left by the unfunded mandate known as Thornton, and by the spending of Maryland's previous Governor Paris G. Ehrlich left a 1.1 billion dollars in the rainy day fund that your hero drained in his first year in. Plus, the failure of the Democrats to work with Ehrlich to pass slots during his term here in Maryland. If they had, the dollars would have landed by now. Do your remember this gem from the 2007 special session from Marty " 83 percent of you will actually see your taxes go down."

If Ehrlich decides to run again he will face formidable questions about the corrupt practices of his former (and hopefully last)administration. He and Mr. Steele sold state contracts to the highest bidder and lined their pockets and those of their supporters. They also are being investigated for serious campaign finance violations for embezzling money from their own contributors. Why in the world would anyone - Republican or Democrat - consider contributing a dime to this thief??

Bob - we miss you -- The Hon(?) current Gov doesn't know what he's doing. Does he think that punishing state workers is such a good idea? We're a strong group--he'd better pray that enough of us like and trust him (ha ha). Ehrlich is honest and left a surplus -- what did our Hon(?) current Gov do with it? Has he cut expenses at his mansion -- like staff, auto, entertaining, turning off lights, etc.? I doubt it. It's better to furlough and lay off.

Again, as a state employee, we were thriving under Ehrlich, since O'Malley (the wanttobe Kennedy) took office, our cost of living raises are a thing of the past. Yet, continue to throw your holiday parties for state employees, that's what we all need...a party instead of a cost of living raise. PLEASE...
Even if Elrlich doesn't run, I truly believe that O'Malley's days are numbered.

Leave it to the "run for my car at 4:30pm" state worker crowd to slam the Governor that's keeping them in their jobs. If you hate it so much, go try getting a job in the private sector like real workers.

jay - to your point, #1 public school system in the nation, four years of frozen in-state college tuition, unemployment 27 percent below the national average, closed the structural deficit left by Ehrlich, legalized slots opening the door for millions more for our schools, expanded healthcare to 100,000 more people, homicides and violent crime down by historic levels, brought spending under control by cutting almost $5 billion from the budget in 3 years.

Those are just a few.

YOU WOULDN'T LAST A DAY AS A STATE EMPLOYEE. We work harder, longer hours then any private sector out there yet we don't get any where near the pay. Do your homework.

O'Malley's days are numbered when all the "run for my cars at 4:30pm" colleagues leave the polls next November, count on THAT!

Hey Scott,

The reason being the general fund budget is lower under O'Malley is that he does not have a choice but to cut the general funds. General Funds are the taxpayer dollars. Since unemployment is high rate it less tax money for the state to operate.

True slots have been aprroved but by the taxpayers becuase our leader in the General Assembly are cowards. Where are these slots at? No where.

What drip in crimes in this state? Baltimore is still in the top crime by population.

The structual deficit that Gov said he fixed was from Glennending not Ehrlich.

That happens when you pass unfunded manadate that does not have a funding
source aka Thornton.


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About the bloggers
Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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