June 23, 2010

Analysis: Kendel Ehrlich predicts ugly campaign

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Former Maryland first lady Kendel Ehrlich told a group of Republican women Wednesday that the campaign pitting her husband, ex-Gov. Bob Ehrlich, against Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley “is going to be ugly.”

Speaking at a luncheon in Ellicott City, Mrs. Ehrlich was referring specifically to a radio ad by the O’Malley campaign that tied her husband to the Gulf oil spill as an advocate of offshore drilling and a lobbyist for big oil.

Some Republicans in blogs and talk radio have criticized the Ehrlich campaign for not responding more forcefully to this ad and an earlier radio spot that mocked Ehrlich as a big spender.

“We’re going to be very strong in our advertising response at the appropriate time,” said Kendel, who has been actively campaign for her husband and other Republicans throughout the state. “At the appropriate time we will be talking about real issues in the campaign – about the unemployment rate, about the tax rate.”

O’Malley’s ads have focused on Ehrlich’s record rather than their own, Kendel said, because “in many respects they have a pretty indefensible record”

Also, “maybe the polling has pushed then to try to drive up negatives” for Ehrlich, because polls by both Rasmussen Reports and the Washington Post have found

“it is essentially an even race” among likely voters.

“People understand that linking that natural disaster to a candidate for state office is pretty ludicrous,” Kendel said. “I think people don’t like that [sort of advertising] anymore.”

“When people run so negatively, they become so desperate, and I think the tone on the other side is going to be like that.”

Speaking to the Maryland Federation of Republican Women, Mrs. Ehrlich echoed familiar campaign themes her husband has been using on jobs, taxes and spending.

“We’re feeling good about the race,” she told the women. “Everything has a feel about it that the snowball is growing.”

That includes the campaign treasury, and they are especially encouraged because “35% of our money is completely new money,” coming from contributors who had not donated to Ehrlich before, his wife said.

–Len Lazarick