With Labor Day just around the corner, and the formal start of the political season with it, I wanted to comment on a few items related to the GOP gubernatorial primary contest between former governor Bob Ehrlich and long-shot challenger Brian Murphy.
• In his September 3rd column in The Gazette, Blair Lee predicts that Brian Murphy could win up to 35 percent of the vote. Lee cites many of the same factors (conservative nature of GOP primary electorate, turnout driven by other competitive primary campaigns, and anti-incumbent sentiment) which other political handicappers and I have cited before as reasons why Murphy may defy expectations. Keep in mind, however, that Lee is unabashedly pro-Ehrlich in his political outlook, and that his column might be an attempt to saddle Murphy with unrealistically high expectations. As for me, I will stick with my 22 percent prediction. Anything north of 25 percent pushes Murphy into the embarrassment zone for Ehrlich.
• In his column, Lee states that, “The Ehrlich folks see the Murphy bubble coming, but they can't do anything about it.” Maybe, but that hasn’t stopped them from at least trying. John Wagner of the Washington Post reports that both Murphy and Ehrlich are making TV ad buys prior to the primary election. Given the certainty of Ehrlich’s victory in the primary, this seems like a waste of money – unless they’re worried that Murphy will poll beyond the 11 percent some Ehrlich aides have privately predicted to outsiders.
• As Julie Bykowicz of the Baltimore Sun reports, early voting officially began in Maryland today. I just spoke to a friend of mine who voted at one of the early voting centers in Baltimore County. He observed a van full of Brian Murphy supporters arrive. I wonder if this will be a harbinger of things to come.
As usual, more tidbits as I hear them. In the meantime, have a great Labor Day.