GOP national chairman offers strategy for expanding Md. party

Pikesville native Mehlman addresses fund-raiser

April 21, 2005|By Andrew A. Green | Andrew A. Green,SUN STAFF

Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman gave Baltimore County Republicans a roadmap last night for expanding the Maryland GOP into the state's dominant party.

The Pikesville native, who ran President Bush's re-election campaign, said that if the Maryland party can turn out just 75 percent of the people who voted for Bush last year, it will sweep the Democrats out of power in 2006.

"We'll re-elect Bob Ehrlich, we'll elect a Republican [U.S.] senator and we won't just have a veto-proof majority in the State House. Bob Ehrlich's agenda will be the law of the land," Mehlman said.

Introduced by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. at the county party's Lincoln Day Dinner as "local boy makes good," Mehlman said the party needs to maintain its reformist principles, welcome racial and ethnic minorities, work to elect Republicans to local and state offices and continually expand the party through voter registration drives.

Mehlman said he thinks the retirement of U.S. Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes gives Maryland Republicans an excellent chance to elect their first senator in decades.

Ehrlich has said he will not run for the Senate seat, but Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele has said he is seriously considering the race. Mehlman said it was too early to say whether another Republican candidate could win the seat.

"The lieutenant governor is an incredibly strong candidate," Mehlman said. "Whatever he decides to do, he's going to be successful."

Mehlman, who has made grass-roots organizing a key goal for the party, said he was heartened to see hundreds of activists turn out for last night's county party fund-raiser.

"We understand politics is a team sport," he said. "This event is an opportunity to motivate the activists ... that are going to be necessary to re-elect Governor Ehrlich and elect a Republican to the Senate."

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