Carroll County Times Opinion

O'Malley-Ehrlich rematch unlikely

Rumblings of former Gov. Robert Ehrlich mounting a bid for the White House in 2016 could prove interesting, especially if Gov. Martin O'Malley decides to throw his hat into the ring as well.

Maryland has never had an elected president. If both happened to stumble in to their party's nominations it would be a real coup.


And stumbling in is about the only way such a match-up would occur.

O'Malley has been "testing the waters" for years. He's making all the moves, visiting all the key states and trying to gain some sort of attention but, so far anyway, he hasn't been too successful.


A Washington Post-University of Maryland poll this month found only 3 percent of Maryland Democrats support O'Malley. More than 60 percent say he wouldn't make a good president.

Elsewhere in the nation O'Malley isn't even on most voters' radar.

Ehrlich would face a similar obstacle as he tries to muscle in among the Republican Party's top presidential contenders, but after losing twice to O'Malley in the governor's race, having the two face off in a presidential race would certainly put Maryland on the political map.

Perhaps state leaders looking to pull the more than $11 million in tax breaks given to the popular Netflix series House of Cards could reallocate that money to O'Malley's and Ehrlich's campaigns. They would certainly get a lot more television time and mileage out of the investment.

O'Malley is criticized for pulling Maryland to the left politically, and for social issues including same sex marriage that certainly is true. But when you look at O'Malley's government policy decisions they match up pretty closely with what Ehrlich did as governor. Ehrlich raised taxes, and then he increased just about every fee possible. Gov.-elect Larry Hogan campaigned on the fact that O'Malley had raised, saying 40 O'Malley-Brown tax increases would cost taxpayers $20 billion, and that if elected he would roll back as many as possible.

Hogan already has said he wants to repeal the stormwater management tax levied against the state's largest jurisdictions. O'Malley took a lot of heat for what was derided as the "rain tax," but if you go back to the Ehrlich years you might recall a certain tax that was levied to help upgrade sewage treatment plants in the state and provide money for bay cleanup. The "flush-tax" as opponents called it, wasn't too popular when the Republican governor enacted it either.

Both governors also raised the state's Transportation Trust Fund to help pay for budget gaps. And Ehrlich was the governor who first pushed to legalize slots in Maryland, but was stymied by obstructionist Democrats in the legislature who didn't want to do anything to make his job easier.

Across most major policy decisions, there is a lot of similarity between the two. That's because, unlike members of Congress, governors have to actually do things to keep their state running. They are more apt to work in ways that benefit the people of their state.


It is that focus on getting things done, regardless of party affiliation, that makes state governors better candidates for president than members of Congress, yet members of Congress have an edge because they get the national headlines.

Where would Texas Sen. Ted Cruz be on the approval scale if he didn't have a national stage on which to perform? In fact, aside from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie there aren't many state leaders who rank high on the list of potential presidential contenders. Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor, is considering a run. And Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is talked about as a candidate, as is Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who didn't run for re-election and will likely try another presidential run. In 2012, Perry was devoured by the party extremists and lost out in the primary.

On the Democratic side there are slim pickings as the party elite continue to focus on a Hillary Clinton presidential run. Beyond her and Vice President Joe Biden there aren't a lot of high profile Democrats getting attention, which is going to hurt the party as the presidential election season heats up.

This small circle of names is likely to get most of the attention leading up to 2016, so there aren't going to be any new ideas or unexpected pronouncements coming from any of the probable contenders. In light of that, an Ehrlich-O'Malley match-up would be great. Too bad that the chances of it happening are slim and none, with none having the early advantage in polling.

Jim Lee is the Carroll County Times' Editor. Email him at