April 6, 2010

Analysis: Ex-GOP chairman endorses Ehrlich opponent

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Newly-minted GOP Gubernatorial hopeful Brian Murphy and the state Democratic Party agree on two things.

“Bob Ehrlich is not a fiscal conservative,” Murphy said, and “he can’t win” in a rematch for governor with Gov. Martin O’Malley, Beyond that, Murphy and the Democrats don’t agree on much else.

Murphy says he is a true-blue pro-business conservative, and he thinks he can beat the incumbent, even though he admits, “in politics, I am a nobody.”

Nobody or not, Murphy was at the State House Tuesday, the day before Ehrlich was to announce, touting his own run for governor. After “looking for a candidate I could support” last year, he found one in the mirror, and those who think he can’t win “will be proven wrong,” Murphy said.

Murphy is being supported by Jim Pelura, former state chairman of the Maryland GOP, and his wife Marianne, a former member of Ehrlich’s State House staff.

“It’s time to bring in some new blood,” said Jim Pelura. “It’s time to stop relying on career politicians.”

Pelura denied that his endorsement of Murphy had anything to do with Ehrlich’s failure to help him raise support for the cash-starved party. He said it was based on principle.

Ehrlich “looks at the private sector as a tool of government,” Pelura said, while Murphy would help enable the private sector.

Murphy, 33, is the father of four and lives in Chevy Chase. He has an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and worked at Black & Decker and Constellation Energy before founding his own investment group, the Plimhimmon Group. Its first investment was the Smith Island Baking Co., which ships Smith Island cakes – Maryland’s multi-layered official state confection – around the country.

“The party must be galvanized behind fiscal conservatives,” Murphy said.

–Len Lazarick