- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 12, 2006

BALTIMORE — Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. said yesterday he does not plan to run for office again, after losing the gubernatorial election to Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley.

Mr. Ehrlich, a Republican, said on WBAL’s “Stateline with the Governor” radio show that the results of the election Tuesday indicated Maryland has moved “pretty hard left.”

“Who’s to say what’s going to happen tomorrow or next week — in four years — but at this point, I have to say that a return to public life would be unlikely,” he said.

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Mr. O’Malley, a Democrat, defeated Mr. Ehrlich on Tuesday, winning about 53 percent of the vote to 46 percent for the incumbent.

Asked if he thought the loss of support for Republicans nationally hurt him, Mr. Ehrlich, 48, said when an incumbent is on the ballot “it’s generally a referendum on the incumbent.”

“For me, it was either rehire me or fire me, and we got fired,” the governor said. “The bottom line here is that I think that the majority of folks in Maryland want Martin O’Malley as governor rather than Bob Ehrlich.”

Mr. Ehrlich pointed to Democratic victories in other key offices in Maryland. Democrats held on to the U.S. Senate seat that’s being vacated by retiring Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes. Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin defeated Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele 55 percent to 44 percent.

Democrats also won the attorney general’s race, with Montgomery County State’s Attorney Douglas F. Gansler defeating Frederick County State’s Attorney Scott L. Rolle.

“If you look at the statewide elected officials today — the folks coming into office — you’re compelled to the conclusion that the state is moving pretty hard left,” Mr. Ehrlich said.

Mr. Ehrlich, who was the first Republican governor to be elected in Maryland since 1966, said his party still has significant support in Western and Southern Maryland, “but clearly, statewide, the direction in this state is pretty hard left, and it’s going to be a very, very difficult thing for a right-of-center Republican Party to overcome.”

Mr. Ehrlich said he was proud of his political c areer in Maryland, which spans about 20 years.

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