Dr. Politics – Legacy of Governor Robert Ehrlich
by Dwight Patel
I’m taking a little break from campaign advice to talk about Maryland’s first Republican governor during my lifetime. In 2002, Robert Ehrlich ran for governor on a platform of fixing Maryland after 8 years of Parris Glendening who ran the state into the ground. (What is it with these Democrat governors and running the states into the ground? It always takes a Republican to fix the mess created by Democrats).
The governor first entered politics in 1986 when he ran for Delegate in Baltimore County. Governor Ehrlich won that race by fewer than 100 votes, which proves the point that every vote counts. Bob served in his delegate slot until 1994 when he ran for Congress in MD-2, replacing the Late Rep. Helen Bentley. In Congress, Governor Ehrlich served on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Subcommittees he served on included Health, Telecommunications and the Internet, and Environment and Hazardous Materials, in addition to being Co-Chair of the Congressional Biotechnology Caucus.
Run for Governor
When Congressman Ehrlich decided to run for governor in 2002, his platform was focused on delivering a balanced budget, increased funding for education and protecting the Bay. This message resonated with Free State voters. Meanwhile, Gov. Ehrlich’s opponent, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, had the full backing of the Maryland Democrat machine as well as the Kennedy machine. Bob Ehrlich’s campaign was successful, but it was a tough battle. At the end of the day, Governor Ehrlich’s message resonated with a wide spectrum of voters. On Election Day 2002 we thought it would be a long night, but it wasn’t. And Governor Ehrlich defeated the Kennedy-Townsend juggernaut by 52% to 47%.
His triumph was a direct result of his brilliant strategy, namely spending the bulk of his time in Montgomery, PG and Baltimore Counties. His common-sense message of fiscal responsibility and good governance had wide appeal. During his gubernatorial term, he lifted the moratorium on executions in Maryland and funded construction of the ICC, a roads project that predated Governor Spiro Agnew’s administration.
Governor Ehrlich’s overall legacy for Maryland was showing Republicans that we can still win statewide in Maryland. His victory in 2002 and Governor Hogan’s victory eight years later showed Maryland Republicans that candidates with the right message can win.
What does this mean for your race?
Governor Bob Ehrlich ran on a platform of sound fiscal policy for Maryland. That should be the centerpiece of the message conveyed by this year’s candidates running for the statehouse as well. Stay away from the hot button issues, remember there is only one President Trump and don’t go crazy on Twitter. You are not as good as President Trump, no matter what you think. Remember, Democrats are obstructing Governor Hogan just like they did with slots when Gov. Ehrlich wanted slots. The same obstructionists had no problem with slots and casinos in 2012. A winning message this year will focus on fiscal responsibility, transportation and improving the quality of schools.
One more thing: Keep in mind that Montgomery County is changing -- there was a time when the worst school in Montgomery County was better than any other school in the State of Maryland.
Meet Governor Ehrlich, this Saturday at MCGOP County Convention. Governor Ehrlich will be the keynote speaker as well as the lunch speaker. Buy tickets for Lunch with Governor Ehrlich at Lunch Tickets