Although it is not official, it appears that Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. will put his name before voters again in the much anticipated rematch with Martin O’Malley for the office of Governor of the State of Maryland on April 7th.
Unlike most pundits, I believe Ehrlich has a better than average shot of beating O’Malley. However, the key is not going to be running against Obama, or even O’Malley, the biggest challenge will be to use the energy and anger of the tea party people with a semblance of political moderation in real policy objectives.
A new poll suggest what I have thought was true about the Maryland’s brew of tea party activists – a good segment of them are Democratic voters who are blue collar people that tend to lean conservative in the way they want government to work. Some of these Democratic voters voted for Ronald Reagan, Bush in 2000, and Ehrlich in 2002. However, the political landscape has changed and Ehrlich has got be careful how he aligns himself with this brand of Maryland Tea.
These voters are not just mad at Obama, they are mad at anyone they view as to be playing politics as usual. In Maryland, they are Republicans, Independents, and Democrats. My advice to Ehrlich is the following: Go to a meeting and do what you did in front of the Republican Party State Central Committee in 2002.
Maryland’s brand of tea can turn very bitter tasting for Ehrlich if he is not careful. In 2006, Ehrlich’s advisers misread the 2002 election, they assumed people of Maryland voted him into office. In my opinion Maryland voters simply did not want his opponent, former Lt. Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. The election scenario is very similar in 2010 because while the Maryland tea party activists may not like Obama and O’Malley, one wrong step by Ehrlich, may spell disaster for his campaign.
Faculty, Department of Political Science, Towson University. Graduate from Liberty University Seminary.