- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 14, 2010

ANNAPOLIS, Md. | Former Gov. Robert Ehrlich defeated Sarah Palin-endorsed Brian Murphy for the Republican nomination on Tuesday, and Gov. Martin O’Malley won easily in the Democratic primary to set up a rematch of the 2006 Maryland governor’s race.

O’Malley, who has been touting record investments in education despite tough economic times, told supporters he was looking forward to the Nov. 2 rematch.

“I’m looking forward to the next 50 days,” O’Malley said at his campaign headquarters in Baltimore.

O’Malley acknowledged that Democrats in Maryland were fairing better than Democrats in many other states, and he attributed that to the nation’s economic woes not being felt as deeply in Maryland.

“Our state is faring better than most states,” O’Malley said. “I think people in our state are intelligent enough and fair enough to understand.”

Ehrlich, who has said he never focused on the Murphy challenge, described Tuesday’s primary as “another work day for us.”

“Obviously, we’ve been focused on November all along,” Ehrlich said at a victory rally at a Baltimore tavern. “This is a signpost along the way.”

Sen. Barbara Mikulski easily won the Democratic primary in her bid to win a fifth term. A crowded field of Republicans are competing for the chance to go up against her.

“I think the voters are, first of all, looking for straight talk and plain talk,” Mikulski said Tuesday night. “They don’t want spin. They want straight talk about what you’re going to do and how is it we know that we can trust you.”

Mikulski said she’s stressing jobs, education and “making our government work in a smarter and more frugal way.”

“They know from my record, when Barbara Mikulski says she’s going to do something, she works her earrings off until she gets it done,” Mikulski said.

Mikulski will face Eric Wargotz, who defeated 10 other Republican candidates to win the GOP nomination. Wargotz is a doctor who has served as a Queen Anne’s County commissioner on the Eastern Shore.

Maryland’s eight incumbents in the House of Representatives prevailed in their primaries.

Republican State Sen. Andrew Harris defeated first-time candidate Rob Fisher to be the Republican nominee in Maryland’s 1st District congressional race. Rep. Frank Kratovil, the first-term Democratic incumbent, was unopposed in the Democratic primary for that seat, which includes all of the Eastern Shore as well as portions of Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Harford counties.

Harris will be challenging Kratovil in a rematch to a very close 2008 race, which Harris lost by less than 3,000 votes.

William Campbell, a former Amtrak chief financial officer, defeated two other candidates to win the GOP nomination to run against Democrat Peter Franchot, who was unopposed in the primary.

Voters supporting O’Malley cited his environmental policies directed at cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay and managing the state’s budget during difficult recessionary times.

“I think he’s done a reasonable job under very difficult circumstances,” said Barry Kessler, 52, after voting in Arnold.

Ehrlich supporters said they chose him instead of Murphy because they believe the former governor stood a better chance of winning back the governorship for the GOP.

“I think he has a better chance of winning in November,” said Tom McLaughlin, 47, after voting in Arnold.

Three Republicans are vying to take on Comptroller Peter Franchot, the Democratic incumbent. William Campbell, a former chief financial officer for Amtrak, is running against Armand Girard, a retired Baltimore teacher, and Brendan Madigan, an 18-year-old who is active in the tea party.

Tough primary battles will also be decided in several heated state Senate races in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.


Associated Press Writers Ben Nuckols and Kathleen Miller in Baltimore and David Dishneau in Washington contributed to this report.


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