Even before yesterday, most people knew I was a Brian Murphy backer. I strongly endorse his bid for Governor. Yet all but maybe a handful of readers may wonder where I was yesterday and the long duration between posts.
Yesterday afternoon I had the opportunity to attend a rally for Brian Murphy supporters outside Annapolis. The reason I did so was to gather material for a Pajamas Media story I worked on this afternoon, and I got to speak to activists from all over who strongly support Brian and may only provide the most tepid of backing for Bob Ehrlich. I can’t say that I blame them, even though I’ll vote for Bob in November if he wins tomorrow (provided he doesn’t do anything absolutely stupid in the next seven weeks like embrace the Obama agenda.)
In the aftermath of this election cycle, though, it’s clear one of two things will be true:
- We will have a Republican governor, or;
- We will have the last Maryland GOP standardbearer be a two-time loser, whether in the primary or general election.
The last time we had a Republican governor, one of his cronies ran the party and just about ran it into the ground. (Now his wife is on the Ehrlich ticket as LG – talk about cronyism!) It was up to a man who I didn’t initially support but now have all the respect in the world for, Jim Pelura, to try and straighten out that mess. Pelura served as the master of ceremonies yesterday and had this to say about Brian in his introduction.
One can debate the merits of Pelura’s tenure as GOP head, but they can’t debate his integrity and principles. I happen to think part of the reason he was ousted and certain large donors held back was because he didn’t allow the party to be completely hijacked as a vehicle for re-electing Bob Ehrlich. Is there bad blood between Pelura and the Ehrlichs? Most likely, but there have been enough people who dislike each other personally but work together for a common goal that I dismiss that angle of sour grapes directed at Jim from the Ehrlich camp.
But let’s say the unthinkable happens and Martin O’Malley is re-elected. Obviously the Ehrlich supporters will be screaming that it’s all Brian Murphy’s fault, but I’m hoping they instead put on their big-boy pants and realize that Ehrlich obviously alienated a significant portion of the electorate, most likely the conservatives who backed Murphy. Sure, Ehrlich talked like this early on (back in April) but he’s never done a mea culpa for overspending during his term.
I just hope the Ehrlich backers recall the ‘no whining’ admonition if he loses. But it’s also up to Murphy backers to consider that they at least can’t ignore the downticket races, even if Murphy loses tomorrow and they can’t stomach the thought of either Ehrlich or O’Malley in office. For me, it’s not quite a ‘lesser of two evils’ race (because Bob Ehrlich does have some good points) but there is that potential for a lot of people.
But the bigger question is whether the Ehrlich era is over if he loses. Does Brian Murphy become the next rendition of Bob Ehrlich, and will the party become a machine to put Brian Murphy in the governor’s office for the open seat come 2014? Somehow I don’t see that happening because Ehrlich is the “establishment” candidate, and they’ll find someone else to play the role if and when Ehrlich departs from the stage. I’d be shocked if Brian Murphy is invited to speak at a Lincoln Day dinner next year. (Now, if he could bring along Sarah Palin that may become a ‘go’.)
I know Brian Murphy’s stances, and I think he would be a great governor. But there are those out there for whom he needs to earn their respect, and if he loses I hope he doesn’t take too long to back Bob Ehrlich. We will need all hands on deck this fall. However, it’s also up to Ehrlich to regain the trust he lost, and tacking to the center right away isn’t going to make it with a lot of his base. If those people stay home in November we have a problem.
Consider it a real life application of Murphy’s Law.