- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican, announced his bid Wednesday morning to recapture the Maryland governorship, hoping in part to ride the wave of voter dissatisfaction that recently has helped Republicans become governors in Virginia and New Jersey.

Mr. Ehrlich in 2003 became the first Republican governor in Democrat-heavy Maryland in more than three decades. He lost his 2006 re-election bid to then-Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley by a margin of 53 percent to 46 percent — in a state that has roughly twice as many registered Democrat as Republican voters.

Much of the race was centered on Baltimore and surrounding counties. But political analysts say the rematch likely will focus on capturing the independent vote and focusing on the voter-rich and largely Democratic Washington suburbs of Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.

Montgomery County has roughly 110,000 independent voters and 123,000 registered Republicans — second only to Baltimore County.

“You would think that what happened in New Jersey and Virginia can happen in Maryland because this is not a good time for anybody seeking re-election,” said C. Fraser Smith, news director for Baltimore-area WYPR radio, who has covered Maryland politics since the 1980s.

In November, Republican Chris Christie defeated incumbent Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine in the New Jersey gubernatorial race. And in Virginia, Republican Robert F. McDonnell beat Democrat R. Creigh Deeds for the governorship.

In January, Scott Brown, a Republican, received strong support from independent voters to win the Senate seat from Massachusetts long held by the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, a Democrat.

“But it’s message and numbers,” Mr. Smith said. “Bob Ehrlich has to worry about what he can bring to the table that he didn’t last time.”

Mr. O’Malley, 47, who officially has not announced a re-election bid, has helped the state do relatively well during the recession but has had to make tough cuts to the state budget.

Mr. Ehrlich, 52, announced his candidacy this morning in Rockville, the Montgomery County seat.

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