Maryland Politics: Murphy says he'll endorse Ehrlich

Capital News Service reporter Stacy Jones reports from Crofton:

Republican gubernatorial challenger Brian Murphy says he'll give former Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. his endorsement -- but only if he's willing to accept it.

"He's made it pretty clear that he doesn't want much to do with me," Murphy said after conceding the GOP primary to the former governor. "Of course I thought I was the better candidate, but somebody's got to beat [Democrat Martin] O'Malley."

The Sarah Palin-endorsed tea party favorite conceded the primary late Tuesday after nearly three hours of waiting anxiously for the votes to be tallied. He made the announcement from his Crofton campaign headquarters before a room of supporters. Children in campaign t-shirts waved American flags while their parents and other adults let out heavy sighs as Murphy told them that conceding was the honorable thing to do.

"On the one hand I'm embarassed and I hate losing," Murphy told the crowd after a third of the votes had been counted. "It's been unbelieveable going up against a machine like this. I wanted to win for you guys."

Volunteer Melanie Gness said she had worked on Ehrlich's first gubernatorial campaign eight years ago but swore off campaigning again because of her disappointment with his resulting term in office.

"I even went so far as to change my party affiliation," the Annapolis woman said.

But after meeting Murphy, Gness said, she felt good about getting behind a politician again.

Murphy arrived at the office shortly after the polls closed at 8 p.m. to a round of applause from campaign staff and volunteers. After a round of handshakes and hugs, Murphy went into a back room to watch the returns with his wife Joy.

He emerged 90 minutes later, dismayed that news organizations had called the race for Ehrlich after only 1 percent of the precincts had reported their results.

He snacked on a piece of chocolate and peanut butter cake from his own Smith Island Sweet Shoppe cakes. The campaign staff also brought a coconut and chocolate version of the bakery's signature 10-layer cake for the occassion.

Murphy, a businessman, started the bakery after a family trip to Smith Island. The firm now ships cakes to all 50 states.

Murphy said that there'll be one sweet reward for leaving the campaign trail.

"I'm so sick of politicians right now," Murphy said. "Tomorrow I'm going to wake up and get my life back."

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