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Posted at 11:34 AM ET, 03/ 9/2011

Wargotz may draft himself to run against Cardin in 2012

By Ben Pershing

The 2012 elections are 20 months away, but it's never too early for "draft" movements to pop up online encouraging various candidates to run for office. That's what appears to be happening in Maryland, where Eric Wargotz, the Republican physician who lost to Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D) in 2010, is being urged on Facebook to challenge Sen. Ben Cardin (D).

Such efforts may be common, but what's unusual about this particular movement -- "Help Eric Wargotz decide to enter the Maryland US Senate race 2012" -- is that it appears Wargotz is drafting himself.

Indeed, the page says it was created by Wargotz. But in a phone interview Wednesday, Wargotz explained that it was actually put together by "some campaign aides. They'd like me to run."

Wargotz added that he "would very much like to run but we haven't made that decision. It's going to be based on whether we think we can win."

Therein lies the problem for Wargotz and any other Republican who decides to run -- no other GOP candidate has stepped forward publicly so far. Cardin won his first term in 2006 by 10 points over Republican Michael Steele, who had been elected statewide as lieutenant governor and drew support from the national party. Cardin now enjoys the benefits of incumbency, and a May 2010 Washington Post poll found that 48 percent of registered voters approved of the job he was doing, while 21 percent disapproved and 31 percent had no opinion.

Mikulski beat Wargotz by 26 points in a good year for Republicans nationwide, without President Obama at the top of the ticket. Winning in 2012 would presumably be an even tougher task.

It would also be expensive. Wargotz raised $932,000 for his 2010 race -- more than two-thirds of it from his own pocket -- but got outspent by a 5-to-1 margin. Wargotz finished the campaign with almost no money left in the bank, while Cardin had $385,000 on hand at the end of 2010.

Wargotz said he was in no hurry to decide whether he will run.

By Ben Pershing  | March 9, 2011; 11:34 AM ET
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