Republican Party headquarters in Ellicott City

O.P. Ditch, right, standing on chair, of Elkridge leads a crowd in the pledge of allegiance during the grand opening of the Howard County Republican Campaign Headquarters. (Staff photo by Sarah Pastrana, Patuxent Publishing / August 23, 2012)

Whether they're running for president or seeking a seat on the Howard County Board of Education, every candidate has their own office space at the Howard County Republican campaign headquarters in Ellicott City.

The office, located off Route 40 in the Normandy Shopping Center, houses campaign signs, bumper stickers and literature for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, U.S. Senate candidate Dan Bongino, U.S. House of Representative candidates Frank Mirabile (District 7), Eric Knowles (District 3) and Nancy Jacobs (District 2) and Board of Education candidate Bob Ballinger.

The Howard County Republican Party, which is paying some bills for the mostly donated space, hosted a grand opening event at the office on Aug. 24.

Barbara Nye, an Elkridge resident who was manning the sign-in area by the entrance, said about 200 people walked in during the two-hour evening event.

Submit a Letter to the Editor for the Laurel Leader, Columbia Flier and Howard County Times

"We had a lot of people that asked to fill out the volunteer forms," she said, noting that she was impressed by the excitement level at the event.

Ellicott City resident Carol Loveless agreed, noting she's "very optimistic" about Republicans chances of taking over the White House in this campaign.

"I think Romney will win in a landslide," she said.

Addressing the large group of people who crowded the office for the grand opening, Howard County Republican Vice Chairman Dave Myers said, "This really goes to show how much support we have in this county."

Myers, who also serves as the chairman of the Romney campaign in Howard County, added, "We're tired of going blue year after year after year."

Like Loveless, Myers believes Romney can win in November, noting Republicans have "not only a shot, but we're going to win this one."

The last GOP presidential candidate to win Maryland was George H. W. Bush in 1988.

In 2008, President Barack Obama captured 62 percent of the votes in Maryland compared to John McCain's 37 percent. In Howard County, Obama earned nearly 32,000 more votes than McCain.

Eliot Sohmer, of Ellicott City, said this is a key election in terms of determining the future direction of the country. Obama, he said, "has done absolutely nothing that he's promised."

Sohmer plans to volunteer where he can to help Romney and other Republicans get elected. He said he would deliver yards signs to people who want them.

Ellicott City resident Norm Goldstein would also like to volunteer, but he thinks his time would best be spent contacting voters in battleground states.

"I don't think we can do much in Maryland ... if I volunteer it will probably be to make phone calls to Ohio or Pennsylvania," he said.

Ballinger appreciates the support

The campaign office hours are weekdays from noon to 6 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 7 p.m.

Events and strategy meetings will be held at the office, but many of the volunteer activities will be conducted outside of the office.

"Romney and the RNC (Republican National Committee) have phone from home capabilities," office manager O.P. Ditch said, noting the office is not yet set up for phone banking.