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O'Malley challenges Ehrlich to Saturday radio debate; Ehrlich offers to host O'Malley on his show

John Wagner

UPDATE, 7:15 p.m.: Ehrlich says his offer of a "one-on-one discussion" still stands.

UPDATE, 6:15 p.m.: Ehrlich has countered by offering to host O'Malley on his show -- which O'Malley's campaign manager says doesn't qualify as a debate.

"I look forward to playing host this Saturday as I have every Saturday for the past few years," Ehrlich said in a statement posted on his Web site. "Rather than bringing in a moderator to fill air time, I will personally host Governor O'Malley for a one-on-one conversation about the record tax increases, jobs losses, and budget deficits that have hurt Maryland families and small businesses in recent years."

O'Malley campaign manager Tom Russell's response: "We proposed a very simple and standard debate at a time we knew would work for Mr. Ehrlich. We regret that he did not take our offer in the spirit it was intended. Our offer stands to have a true debate this weekend at a time that is convenient for Mr. Ehrlich if he is at all interested. We weren't proposing a trip to some political pundit's talk show."

ORIGINAL POST: Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) issued a surprise debate challenge to Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) late Tuesday afternoon, just as the former governor was preparing to formally announce his plans for a rematch Wednesday morning.

O'Malley proposed an hour-long debate Saturday on Baltimore's WBAL radio, the station that airs a weekly talk show co-hosted by Ehrlich and his wife, Kendel.

"There are so many important issues facing our state right now," O'Malley said in a statement issued by his campaign. "I think the Maryland public deserves to hear about our plans and ideas as soon as possible."

A spokesman for Ehrlich did not offer an immediate response.

O'Malley said he is willing to hold the debate during the Ehrlichs' regular time slot on WBAL "to accommodate Mr. Ehrlich's schedule." O'Malley proposed that the debate be moderated by a member of the WBAL news staff and a "television partner."

"I welcome Mr. Ehrlich back into the race for governor," O'Malley said in the statement. "The 2006 race was hard fought, and I look forward to an issue-based discussion about ideas and issues that can keep our state moving forward."

By John Wagner  |  April 6, 2010; 4:39 PM ET
Categories:  2010 Elections , John Wagner  
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Next: First Click, Maryland -- Ehrlich enters the gate

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