Ehrlich Hits O'Malley Strategy; Attack Adsused in Lieu of a Real Debate
Byline: S.A. Miller and Jon Ward, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. yesterday said Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, the Democratic nominee for governor, is running a "Rose Garden" campaign by ducking debates and relying on attack ads.
"It seems to be a Rose Garden strategy," Mr. Ehrlich, a Republican, told editors and reporters at The Washington Times. They "run the negative ads, hope the national trend is such and don't put [Mr. O'Malley] out there too much."
In a wide-ranging interview, the governor said that next month's elections will decide whether the Republican Party will be relevant in Maryland, where Republicans are outnumbered by Democrats 2-to-1, and that he and Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, who is running for the U.S. Senate, will "win together or .. lose together."
"I am either a historical .. accident, or we are going to be at the midtier of a realignment," said Mr. Ehrlich, who in 2002 was elected as Maryland's first Republican governor in more than 30 years. "It is probably impossible to get to a Virginia realignment. But it will be a Maryland-flavored realignment. .. That's what this election is all about."
Virginia's General Assembly, which had been controlled by Democrats for decades, has become a Republican-led legislature during the past 10 years.
Mr. Ehrlich gave an upbeat assessment of his campaign, despite trailing Mr. O'Malley in most polls and rising anti-Republican sentiment nationwide because of dissatisfaction with President Bush, the war in Iraq and the congressional-page scandal involving former Rep. Mark Foley, Florida Republican.
"The one good thing we have found in our polling - to this very second - is that the national mood has not necessarily rubbed off on us," he said. "We are not immune. We just haven't seen it."
Mr. O'Malley has declined an invitation to be interviewed at The Times. His spokesman, Rick Abbruzzese, yesterday dismissed Mr. Ehrlich's assertion that the mayor is avoiding debates.
"Nothing is further from the truth," Mr. Abbruzzese said. "In fact, O'Malley is willing to debate from now through to the election. …