Robert Ehrlich’s bid to return to the governor’s mansion in Maryland is one of those races that look particularly tough to assess.
Few GOP wins in 2002 were less expected that Ehrlich’s win in the Free State; in hindsight, it could be attributed to his ability as a better-than-average GOP candidate, a particularly weak competitor in Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, and a strong GOP wave that year. (Somewhere at the RNC, someone’s asking, “Hey, doesn’t Ehrlich’s running mate deserve more credit?”) The state legislature remained heavily Democratic, and as governor, Ehrlich found much of his agenda blocked. The Washington Post surprised many by endorsing Ehrlich in 2006, but by then, his reelection bid already appeared doomed.
The Democrat who beat him, Martin O’Malley, ran with the political wind at his back and with a platform full of promises. The average Marylander is not better off now than he was four years ago. Yes, it’s an extraordinarily Democratic state, and O’Malley’s 46 percent approval rating looks good compared with a lot of other Democratic incumbents. But this seems like a tough environment to be running on “four more years of the same.”
Can Ehrlich win? Rasmussen puts him within three. This morning the Post seems particularly underwhelmed by both candidates for their lack of specifics in addressing the state’s “staggering short- and long-term economic problems.” Phrases like that suggest that no endorsement is a real possibility.