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Md. GOP is ready to win, Ehrlich says

Erica Johnston

Close to 700 upbeat Maryland Republicans filled a hotel ballroom Thursday night to celebrate the state party's return to solvency and tout their candidates' prospects in November.

Former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), who is running to get his old job back, was among those who contrasted the mood at the party's 20th annual Red, White and Blue dinner with that of recent years.

Instead of "a morgue," the room was filled with "a bunch of people ready to win," Ehrlich told the crowd, which also heard speeches from National Republican Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (R).

In the wake of Ehrlich's 2006 loss to Gov. Martin O'Malley (D), the Maryland GOP struggled to overcome poor morale and infighting among party leaders and, until recently, had been mired in debt.

Party chairwoman Audrey Scott, who took over last fall and hired new staff, told the crowd that last month "the Maryland Republican Party became solvent for the very first time in over three and a half years. ... It's not only that we've paid all our bills. We have money in the bank."

Party staff said Thursday night's dinner raised about $200,000, which will be used for field operations leading up to November.

Steele, Ehrlich's former lieutenant governor, said the state party was experiencing a renaissance and introduced Ehrlich as "the once and future governor of the great state of Maryland."

Steele cautioned the crowd against becoming overconfident even as some polls show a very competitive race, however.

"My friends, don't screw this up," Steele said. "We've got work to do."

Romney, who ran for president in 2008 and is angling to do so again in 2012, said "the only way this state is going to create jobs again is if Bob Ehrlich is your governor."

In his remarks, Ehrlich confirmed that his wife, Kendel, will become the sole host of the couple's weekly radio show on WBAL once Ehrlich officially files as a candidate next month.

Earlier, Ehrlich told reporters he is considering several possible lieutenant governor candidates, but plans an announcement "no time soon." By law, Ehrlich must have a running mate by July 6, the filing deadline for gubernatorial candidates.

-- John Wagner

By Erica Johnston  |  June 10, 2010; 11:26 PM ET
Categories:  2010 Elections  
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O'Malley made a big mistake in raising the state sales tax by 20%. Every man, woman and child pay that everyday. And Delaware, which whom we share an 85 mile border, has NO sales tax!

Posted by: robinficker | June 11, 2010 3:28 AM | Report abuse

Ehrlich was fired. he was a failure as governor. there's nothing left for him here.
he needs to move on with his life and the republican party should offer MD a real choice, not just trot out former losers again and again.

Posted by: MarilynManson | June 11, 2010 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Are you rewriting history? The 2009 Red, White and Blue dinner had 720 upbeat, enthusiastic MDGOP supporters and raised a significant amount of money. Newt Gingrich was the Keynote Speaker and the VIP guest room was packed.
Past and present MD US Congressmen and women were honored including former governor Bob Ehrlich and Michael Steele handed out the bronze Abraham Lincoln busts to each honoree.
I guess if you say untruths long enough, they become truths.
Marianne Pelura, Chair, 2009 MDGOP Red, White and Blue Dinner

Posted by: mpelura | June 11, 2010 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Marianne, stop the division and stop looking to the past. You claim the 2009 party was such a success - how then did YOU bankrupt the party? The party is in the best shape its been in recent memory, get on board or get out of the way!

Posted by: Blue3 | June 11, 2010 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Enough with the 20% sales tax increase already! That is a penny on the dollar! With gas at nearly $3 a gallon (thanks to Bush's wars and the speculation in the commodities market), you're still b@#ching about a penny on the dollar?

Posted by: vmi98mom | June 11, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Ehrlich and Md. GOP are in fantasyland. Last time I checked, there seemed to be few, if any, GOP challengers to the incumbent Dems. who rule the Md. General Assembly. So even if there's a political earthquake in Md. and Ehrlich wins, the Dems. will most likely still be in charge and they will stall anything he tries to do. The Md. GOP has made a huge mistake by putting all their political eggs in Ehrlichs basket.

Posted by: VikingRider | June 11, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

@blue3: I think these are fair questions to ask of you.

If the party philosophy hasn't changed then why did the financial spigots suddenly open up when a new Chairman came into town? Were they supportive of the party or simply trying to curry favor with the new person in charge?

Marianne Pelura brings up a good, factual point: according to published reports from the same source (this site) attendance at the RWB dinner was just the same or perhaps a little smaller this year than last. Obviously there's a little more excitement about future prospects because the election is closer.

It seems to me that the Jim Pelura's biggest sins are/were these: as Chairman he happened to actually care about what the smaller counties (you know, the ones which actually vote Republican on a regular basis) think and he currently supports a non-establishment candidate for Governor. Given some of what Governor Ehrlich did during his four years, perhaps he has a point.

By the way, I actually voted for Pelura's opponent for Chair back in 2006 but he worked to earn my respect. I have no animus against Audrey Scott but some of her supporters seem to forget Reagan's Eleventh Commandment when it suits their purposes.

Posted by: Michael_Swartz | June 11, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

These teabaggers are hilarious. I am continually astounded at how some otherwise very intelligent people get caught up in the GOP.

Drill, baby, drill!


Posted by: free-donny | June 11, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Fascinating spin, Marianne. Exactly how much PROFIT did you actually garner from the RWB dinner last year. I was there so I remember.

And it's equally interesting that Jim couldn't do anything but sink us into more debt during his tenure.

It's simple folks. Look where we were last year in June and look where we are now.

Posted by: acharmedone | June 11, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

To all the Dems The polls say it's now a dead heat 45% to 45% with O'Malley dropping.

Posted by: cheverly1 | June 11, 2010 7:32 PM | Report abuse

Please WBAL, anything but Kendel Ehrlich for 2 hours, anything! Aaaaaaahhhhh!

Posted by: hamsandwich | June 15, 2010 6:41 PM | Report abuse

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