It’s official in Harford County: Bob Ehrlich is running for governor. The Republican candidate’s 2010 announcement took place within sight of the location of his 2006 Bel Air announcement, the building that is now the Dark Horse restaurant. Ehrlich is certainly not the Dark Horse he was in 2002, when he ran a strong grass-roots focused campaign to defy the odds and become the first Republican governor in Maryland in 36 years. Nevertheless, Ehrlich will have to overcome the odds again to win his rematch with a Democrat governor in a state that the Democrats have had a legislative choke-hold on for time immemorial.
Ehrlich said that Harford would be an “essential county” for his reelection bid, adding that the same results in Harford as before wouldn’t be enough in 2010. In 2002, Ehrlich received 74 percent of the ballots cast- but the now-announced-candidate says that he will need 76 to 78 percent of Harford’s votes in November.
After an introduction by County Executive David Craig, Ehrlich told the roughly 250 in attendance that this was not a grudge match. “My last grudge match was in middle school. I won, by the way,” Ehrlich said before labeling the race a “contest for the future of the state of Maryland.”
Ehrlich painted a picture of his campaign message, arguing that the election will be about those who kill jobs and those who allow the private sector to create jobs. He asked supporters to go the extra step, and to turn their near-depression over national political events into activism. Ehrlich said that is what is necessary to “show that arrogant monopoly in Annapolis that we are here to stay.”
After saying that Maryland is highly taxed and highly regulated, Ehrlich said that he would send a message that Maryland was back in business and would compete with Virginia again.
Ehrlich gave the crowd a piece of advice, telling them to tell their friends “the difference between Ehrlich and O’Malley is that I am the last thing between you and a three billion dollar tax increase.”
Ehrlich did not mention his primary challenger Brian Murphy, who received the endorsement of former state GOP chair Jim Pelera this week. Neither was any mention made of increasing speculation that Wayne Curry, the County Executive of Prince George’s county, will pose a serious and financialy draining primary challenge to the incumbent governor.
In introducing Ehrlich, Craig announced that the two candidates would be sharing a campaign office at a newly rennovated building in Bel Air. The arrangement ties the candidates together, an interesting dynamic within the county as Craig has a contested primary and Ehrlich can use support to push his total in Harford over the 75th percentile.