Ehrlich declares himself, first lady out of Senate race
By Andrew A. Green
March 17, 2005
Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. said yesterday that neither he nor first
lady Kendel S. Ehrlich intends to run for the seat being vacated by
Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, but he held out the possibility that Lt. Gov.
Michael Steele could become the GOP's most competitive U.S. Senate
candidate in decades.
Ehrlich said he has spoken with party leaders in Washington - he
wouldn't say whom - about the strongest Republican candidate for the
seat. He said now would be the wrong time for him to run.
"I have gone around the state talking about commitments ... about
change, about moving the ball forward," he said. "That job is not done.
I believe, in fact I know, that I would be abandoning my commitment to
the people of Maryland if I left my job early."
Ehrlich said that his wife is flattered that her name has been
mentioned as a possible candidate but that she is busy with their two
As for a Steele candidacy, Ehrlich said he would regret losing a true
friend and partner as his lieutenant governor, and would consider the
best interests of the state and the party in advising Steele over the
next few months on whether to run.
But the governor said the fact that people are interested in whom the
Republicans will nominate is proof that the party is more relevant than
it has been in years.
"This is a seat I believe can be won by the right candidate," Ehrlich
said of his party's chances. "Michael Steele would be a wonderful
A spokeswoman for Steele did not return phone messages yesterday.
State Sen. E.J. Pipkin, the party's most recent candidate for U.S.
Senate, said he will consider whether to run after the legislative
The Democratic field is thick with potential candidates.
Former congressman and NAACP chairman Kweisi Mfume declared Monday that
he is running. Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger announced an exploratory
committee Tuesday. Reps. Benjamin L. Cardin of Baltimore and Chris Van
Hollen of Montgomery County have said they are seriously considering
Richard Vatz, professor of political rhetoric at Towson University,
said it's good for Steele's career to have his name mentioned for
higher office. He said it pains him as a conservative to say it, but
Steele would be a long shot.
"If I were he, I wouldn't announce I wasn't going to run, but I
wouldn't run," he said. "It's not impossible, but I'd hate to put my
job on the line for that."
Copyright © 2005, The Baltimore Sun