O'Malley projected to win
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley on Tuesday night turned back a challenge from his Republican predecessor, Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., overcoming a wave of anti-incumbent frustration that was toppling Democrats nationwide.
A lopsided fundraising advantage, a disciplined campaign and a left-leaning electorate that remained receptive to a Democratic message, along with clear majorities for O'Malley in pre-election polls, indicated that the governor had emerged as the more trusted candidate on major issues such as job creation, the economy and the performance of the state's public schools.
At the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, bursts of cheers erupted from the crowd as supporters began to receive email alerts from news outlets declaring O'Malley the winner. The crowd was awaiting the governor's arrival.
Ehrlich's promise to roll back an O'Malley sales tax increase, clamp down on spending and approve more charter schools failed to generate the same momentum that helped Republicans gubernatorial elections last year in New Jersey and Virginia. Ehrlich had cited those victories as reasons for seeking a rematch against O'Malley.
Heading into the last two weeks of the campaign, the governor was outspending Ehrlich roughly 3-to-1 in the television ad war. And O'Malley outflanked his opponent with commercials that drew attention to Ehrlich-era property tax, fee and spending increases. Those spots undercut the Republican's ability to position himself as the fiscally prudent alternative. Late in the campaign, Ehrlich broadened his attack from state issues to federal ones, hitting Democrats on the federal overhaul of health care and on immigration policy.
But Ehrlich's casual speaking style, which in past campaigns struck many voters as a mark of someone who understood the pressures facing the middle class, this year seemed to some observers a symptom of a campaign that sometimes lacked focus, intensity and funding.
"The O'Malley campaign just steamrolled the Ehrlich campaign," said Donald F. Norris, professor of public policy at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. "They got more money, stayed on message, got out early and kept going. If you want to draw a parallel, it's consistent with O'Malley's personality, which is hard-charging ... and Bob Ehrlich's, which is laid-back. But his campaign just never seemed to get off the ground."
At Ehrlich's campaign gathering at the Maryland Fair Grounds in Timonium, some Republicans were in disbelief. "I think there's something wrong with people in this state," said Nina Boniface, 47, after hearing that The Washington Post called the race for he man she did not vote for.
"I don't think they're getting what's going on. They're not seeing the "midnight run' tax increase," she said referring to a late night vote in the General Assembly that increased state taxes.
"I don't know - I'm frustrated," said Boniface, a dental assistant who lives in Harford County. But she said that there appeared to be good news for the GOP in the state's 1st congressional
district, where Republican challenger Andy Harris was trying to ubseat freshman Democratic Rep. Frank Kratovil.
- Aaron C. Davis, Ann E. Marimow and Freddy Kunkle
Aaron C. Davis
| November 2, 2010; 9:34 PM ET
Categories: 2010 Elections, Aaron C. Davis
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