Thoughts on Murphy v. Ehrlich

I guess this is by popular demand. Recently I made up my mind in the GOP race for governor since I finally got to hear the other party speak in person and ask him questions. Just so happens the “establishment” choice isn’t my choice.

In looking up and down my Facebook page recently, I’ve noticed that the tenor of the GOP primary for governor has changed markedly. Seems to me those people who were huge Ehrlich supporters are beginning to get a little nervous and looking over their shoulder at the allies of Brian Murphy. I have no idea why since they’re so certain Bob will win the primary, right?

Of course, the attitude also extends to their treatment of Sarah Palin after she endorsed Murphy. I realize that some of the bloom has come off the rose in the last two years but when you see a screeching harangue telling Sarah to “stay out of Maryland politics” you would think Murphy just got the coveted Barack Obama endorsement. I’m sorry she didn’t pick your guy but I didn’t complain about Mitt Romney meddling in our state and endorsing Bob Ehrlich.

Indeed, I have a preference for Brian Murphy, having now heard both speak in my presence during this campaign. (We’ll count our Lincoln Day Dinner too even though it occurred a few days before he made it official.) I say preference because Bob Ehrlich is also far superior to Martin O’Malley.

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But the primary is and should be about VOTERS selecting the best candidate. Needless to say, the revocation of Rule 11 for Bob Ehrlich and Andy Harris upset me greatly. In the case of Harris, at least it can be said that Rob Fisher knew going in that Harris was going to run again since he announced the fact way back in January (Fisher jumped into the race in April.) On the other hand, when Murphy got in his chief opponent was Larry Hogan. Yes, the rumors were flying that Bob would return but he took his sweet time drawing it out.

Instead, the Maryland GOP establishment had planned this summer to be a coronation tour for Ehrlich. The convention was all about him, but as I wrote back then:

Yes, it can be argued that Murphy has little chance but at least he put his name on the line while someone was dithering about which race to run in – if he would run at all. I think we owed him the opportunity to speak, or else be neutral in the race and find a different keynote speaker.

Looks like there’s a little competition here despite the best efforts of the Maryland Republican Party establishment to pick winners and losers.

Then again, when it comes to the Maryland Republican Party establishment – well, we don’t see eye to eye too often. Longtime readers may recall this fiasco, but remember how well that whole McCain thing worked out? Hey, that brings me back to Sarah Palin!

(Oh, and just for the record my initial choice for the GOP nomination was Rep. Duncan Hunter of California. McCain was WAY down the list. Maybe if they listened to me then…)

Obviously when Sarah Palin endorsed Brian Murphy the reaction from the Ehrlich camp was to belittle Palin as much as possible. Bob Ehrlich as much as said so in his remarks on the situation and Mark Newgent of Red Maryland, a bastion of Murphy-bashing, darkly intoned that Palin’s endorsement was an inside job by Martin O’Malley. Mark, I respect your work but you’re giving Martin way too much credit for being too clever by half. Do I need to come back and set you folks straight? (I guess I do because I’m here now.)

As I said at the start, I have nothing against Bob Ehrlich – if he wins the primary, he’s got my vote in November (presuming he does nothing totally foolish like veer to O’Malley’s left on issues.) But I think it would be enlightening to see the two of them battle it out in a debate and let the GOP voters decide who’s best – of course that will never happen because the Ehrlich campaign would be afraid to give O’Malley ammunition regarding Bob’s record (hint to Ehrlich campaign: I’m sure they’ve already dug it up and will use it. They’ve already gone negative!)

There’s no doubt I’d like to see a Republican Party united as of September 15. In the end, it seems to me that all this sniping by Ehrlich backers is insurance in case the worst happens and Martin O’Malley beats him in November – hello, scapegoat, thy name is Brian Murphy. But they better not say that around me because I’ll call them on it.

Seldom is a primary season remembered by voters in November – the lone exception may be Andy Harris in 2008 and guess what? It was because the GOP was divided by a bitter primary and a sour grapes loser. I don’t see Brian Murphy or his supporters playing that role and I damn well hope Ehrlich’s backers don’t play that game if Murphy wins. But the Maryland GOP may be complicit because they shielded Bob from having to work as hard on building his campaign over the summer.

Of course, this is cross-posted at monoblogue.

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