Ehrlich campaigns for Democratic cash

Republican candidate notes gain in poll

May 31, 2002|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

Boasting of a favorable recent political poll and declaring that key Democratic contributors are waiting with potentially vital cash, Republican congressman and Maryland gubernatorial candidate Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. told a lunchtime business group in Columbia that "this race is the shot to win."

A number of active Democratic contributors are waiting before giving big money to candidates, he said. They have not committed to Democratic front-runner Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.

"Democratic money that a Republican needs to win is parked right now," Ehrlich said in his analysis of Townsend's contributors.

"If I had seen Maryland Democrats' names going to her, I probably would not have gotten into this race. I could not have raised enough money," he said.

But much of Townsend's money is coming from outside Maryland, Ehrlich said, which gives him a better chance.

"I don't know anybody in Braintree, [Mass.], or Hollywood," he said.

And if Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, gets into the race, it will mean Ehrlich can win with less money, he said, as the Democrats spend their money fighting each other.

"It would be quite a race. Gee, I hope there's no bloodshed there," he said to laughter at what could be a bitter, divisive primary contest.

Howard County Executive James N. Robey, a Democrat who has endorsed Townsend, sat across the table from Ehrlich at the Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Columbia Sheraton hotel.

Ehrlich, who has maintained friendships with Democrats from his eight years in the Maryland House of Delegates before his election to Congress in 1994, is a former Gilman School quarterback, Princeton graduate and lawyer who grew up in Arbutus.

When a cell phone rang loudly just as Ehrlich prepared to speak, he asked, "Is that Parris [Glendening] again?"

Ehrlich got to talk about his favorite recent poll when Howard builder Harry "Chip" Lundy, who accompanied him into the hotel, rose to ask, "How far ahead are you?"

The GOP candidate then revealed to the more than 200 in attendance that a WJLA television poll taken last week of 1,089 likely Maryland voters showed Townsend 5 points ahead of Ehrlich, 48 percent to 43 percent, with 9 percent undecided.

Polls last winter showed Townsend with a 15-point lead against Ehrlich in a head-to-head match-up, though neither was a declared candidate.

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