Confident GOP raises $750,000 at dinner

September 27, 2006|By Andrew A. Green | Andrew A. Green,SUN REPORTER

A confident and unified Maryland Republican Party stood behind its statewide ticket last night and promised a victory in November that will start a permanent realignment in Annapolis.

The party's annual Red, White and Blue Dinner served as a giant pep rally for Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s re-election campaign and the effort to send Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele to the U.S. Senate.

Ehrlich exhorted the party faithful - nearly 1,000 strong at the Baltimore Hyatt Regency, at ticket prices of $200 and upward - to support the Republican nominees for attorney general, Frederick County State's Attorney Scott Rolle, and comptroller, Anne McCarthy, and to send more Republicans to the General Assembly.

"We have one shot. It comes around every 40 or 50 years," Ehrlich said. "This is your chance to be empowered. It's not coming around in our lifetimes again."

The party raised nearly $750,000 from the dinner, a figure party leaders were quick to note was about 10 times the amount Democrats raised the night before when New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton headlined a rally in Prince George's County.

The crowd gave lengthy ovations to Steele, Ehrlich and the other candidates. Ehrlich said the reason for the enthusiasm is the record he and Steele amassed over four years in the State House. When voters compare it with the record of Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, the Democratic candidate for governor, their choice will be clear, Ehrlich said.

The governor rattled off what he said are his administration's major accomplishments, including turning a budget deficit into a surplus, promoting charter schools, cleaning up the Chesapeake and approving construction of the Inter-County Connector.

All the Democrats can point to, he said, are electricity deregulation, a medical malpractice crisis, the lack of a ban on gay marriage and failing Baltimore schools.

"This sloppy monopoly has 42 days left," Ehrlich said.

Steele pledged to shake up the status quo if he is elected.

Democrats have said that Steele's ties to President Bush mean he wouldn't be an independent voice in Washington, but he said it was his Democratic opponent, 10-term Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, who would conduct business as usual in the Capitol.

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