MARYLAND - In 2006, now-Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley's top counties/cities for votes were Montgomery County (190,873), Prince George's County (162,899), Baltimore County (135,567), and Baltimore City (115,136). Then-Governor Bob Ehrlich's top counties for votes were Baltimore County (143,870), followed by Montgomery County (112,071), Anne Arundel County (106,897), and then a giant drop-off to Harford County (57,882). In all, Ehrlich lost in 2006 by almost 117,000 votes. The following is a list of reasons why former-Governor Bob Ehrlich is not running for governor in 2010:
1. Bob Ehrlich has not signed the papers to enter the governor game. Since July 6, 2010 is the filing deadline, he remarkably sit on the bench for 16 more weeks, waiting for the weather to change to win.
2. Ehrlich has not started Spring training to declare he is running for governor.
3. Ehrlich is 100% undecided about playing the governor position in 2010. This explains why Ehrlich is so confessional in public about his reluctance to reenter public service. Further, he has plausible deniability that he ever was running for governor in the first place because he has always always always said he was undecided.
4. Ehrlich is an excellent switch-hitter, and not a one-dimensional person. He is a lawyer, a current talk show host on WBAL, a Princeton graduate (and captain of Princeton's football team), a loyal husband, an energetic father, and a former governor.
5. Ehrlich (along with most other players) wants a nearly-guaranteed win. Otherwise it is not worth the personal sacrifice to lose and be forever rejected by state and national political teams.
6. Ehrlich's support from Maryland voters is shallow, because the State's Republican bench is weak. Since he had almost 60% approval entering Election Day 2006 and somehow lost, even some people who like Ehrlich don't vote for him.
7. Ehrlich doesn't have the cash to recruit a winning roster. This is especially difficult since there is a recession, and the fans can't pay for enough tickets to start a financial wave.
8. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend is (thankfully) off the roster. In 2002, Bob Ehrlich's top counties were Baltimore County (170,920), Anne Arundel County (113,968), Montgomery County (113,680), and Harford County (63,553). Kennedy's top counties/cities were Montgomery County (180,576), Prince George's County (150,927), Baltimore City (120,070), and Baltimore County (106,195). In the good 'ole days, Ehrlich won by 66,170.
9. Montgomery County's Executive is O'Malley's perfect scapegoat to watch during a rain delay. In a state run with a Democrat monopoly (and in the midst of facing massive budget problems), some Democrat must be the fall-guy caught sitting on the toilet. In 2010, the witch hunt will not be Baltimore City's problems, but Montgomery County! Facing a current (and growing) budget shortfall of $762,000,000, Ike "The Bathroom" Leggett is no political ally of O'Malley. Besides, Leggett says he can't go to his office bathroom in Montgomery County without needing a policeman to hold his hand! According to The Washington Post: "Leggett's aides said yesterday that his security detail did not want him using the public restroom because walking to and from the facility could expose him to harm. The shower was included [with the $65,000 bathroom and sitting room], an aide said, because Leggett lives about 40 minutes away from the Rockville office and regularly attends evening events without having time to freshen up at home."
10. Governor O'Malley has not given Ehrlich a major issue to rally around. (The budget is not enough).
11. President Obama can help from Maryland's AAA farm team (Washington, D.C.). A rally in Prince George's County can be planned spontaneously by the Commander in Chief. A rally at Navy headquarters is also possible. A rally at Camden Yards will never happen!
12. Tea is not one of Ehrlich's concessions. Ehrlich seems to me more like a coffee or beer man.
13. Candidates on the DL did not have proprietary information. Mike Pappas, Pat McDonough, and Larry Hogan, when they exited the Republican Primary for governor, did not have private declarations from Ehrlich. The bizarre (and false) theory is that they would not have exited the primary contest unless they knew Ehrlich was running. Politics does not always work this way, though it normally does. Sometimes wild pitches and passed balls happen.
14. The coaches should know the facts, not the media. It is out of a genuine respect for Ehrlich that people do not badger him with follow-up questions about his forever-delayed entry. (For instance, his radio contract with WBAL allows him to easily exit, should he desire to do so.) Interestingly, Republicans and reporters allow him to stand behind that (understood) veil of respect. Then again, it is not a reporter's job to push Bob to declare that he is not running. Instead, that job is exclusively part of the job description of party leaders like RNC Chairman Michael Steele and Maryland Republican Chairman Audrey Scott.
15. Ehrlich can respectfully ask for a pinch hitter. What will be Bob's excuse when he decides not to run for governor? My guess is some version of this (which is the truth): "After reviewing my 2002 and 2006 campaign numbers and comparing them to trends within Maryland's borders, I have decided Maryland is essentially the same state that elected Martin O'Malley in 2006." Then, he will politely thank everyone who has asked him to run and wish Republicans luck in 2010. That's probably when he will say that he loves his wife and kids (which he does). Yes, some inside-Republicans will be hurt, but in 2012 or 2014, or in 2022 (when he is 64), most Republicans will forgive him, even begging him (again) to return to the game. The reason is that Bob Ehrlich is one of only a handful of All-stars of the Maryland Republican Party. (God, I miss Connie Morella; and Roscoe Bartlett won't quit the game until death retires him!) Let me throw in some inside-politics trivia that (injured-prone) Jim Pelura made painfully obvious. Pelura whispered the truth to nearly-deaf listeners: In 2006, Bob Ehrlich was the only incumbent governor in America who lost reelection. For that comment, Pelura was ejected for good. Then on his way out, he even had the gall to babble that Ehrlich even lost Baltimore County in 2006. For that, Pelura's name is now cursed, as he will only be a legend if Ehrlich actually (temporarily) retires.
16. Just because there is a stadium, doesn't mean there is a player in it. Didn't Indiana's Republicans learn a great (and ironic) lesson when Senator Evan Bayh from Indianapolis taught them that filing for office is all that matters. Thus, having small campaign staff does not necessarily mean that a candidate exists.
Well, who then can fill Bob Ehrlich's shoes? Cal Ripken, a Republican (believe it or not)! Ripken's issues are ideal for Maryland, and he isn't just a baseball hero, but a man with amazing timing and longevity. Let me just close with one horse story about him.
17. One Baltimore man loves a colt. On May 2, 2009 Ripken and his wife attended the Kentucky Derby, as they do every year. In this race he placed a bet on Mine That Bird, claiming the horse's name appealed to him given his career with the Orioles along with the jockey's name, Calvin Borel. The gelding also wore a saddle with cloth number "8" post position, and had odds set at 50 to 1. Well, that there dark horse actually won that there race! It was the first time since 1913 that a horse won the Kentucky Derby after being given such odds. Although I have no proof of it, my guess is Ripken won more than $66,170, which is the amount of votes Ehrlich won in 2006.