How Big Is the GOP Presidential Field? Bob Ehrlich Is Preparing to Run

The former Maryland governor is making trips to the early-voting GOP primary states, and discussing how to fund a campaign.

Bob Ehrlich campaigns unsuccessfully for governor in 2010.
National Journal
Paul Steinhauser
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Paul Steinhauser
Jan. 26, 2015, 11:05 a.m.

CON­CORD, N.H. — He’s got­ten very little at­ten­tion since los­ing the gov­ernor’s race in Mary­land five years ago, but former Gov. Bob Ehr­lich is non­ethe­less ex­plor­ing a pres­id­en­tial cam­paign.

Ehr­lich plans to make his fourth vis­it to New Hamp­shire on Feb. 24, after meet­ing last week with more than 100 top donors in New York to dis­cuss fin­an­cing a po­ten­tial cam­paign. At those meet­ings, he dis­cussed set­ting up a lead­er­ship PAC, as a bunch of oth­er prob­able can­did­ates have done in re­cent weeks.

“Ob­vi­ously this sum­mer we have to fig­ure out what the situ­ation is. Are people re­spond­ing to my mes­sage? Are they lin­ing up to hear more of what I say after I speak? Clearly there’s been a little bit of a spark in my pub­lic speeches,” Ehr­lich said. “Can that spark cause more sparks? Are there more groups that want to hear me?”

If Ehr­lich does de­cide to run, he’d be con­sidered a huge long shot in what’s shap­ing up to be a very deep field of can­did­ates for the GOP nom­in­a­tion. Asked how he could com­pete against pos­sible rivals with ma­jor name re­cog­ni­tion such as Mitt Rom­ney, Jeb Bush, and Chris Christie, Ehr­lich said, “That’s not where we are right now. That’s not where my mind is right now. That doesn’t re­flect my present status.”

“Right now for our pur­poses that really doesn’t mat­ter,” he ad­ded. “I’ve been very care­ful with the people we’ve talked to and the people we’ve met in not get­ting ahead of ourselves.”

Ehr­lich was elec­ted Mary­land gov­ernor in 2002 — a rare Re­pub­lic­an in the solidly-Demo­crat­ic state — but was de­feated in the next two elec­tions by Demo­crat Mar­tin O’Mal­ley.

“I re­mark to every­one around me how much New Hamp­shire re­minds me of the 2nd Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict of Mary­land, my old dis­trict,” he said, “It’s very easy for me to come up and to not just talk about polit­ics and my views but feel very com­fort­able al­most im­me­di­ately up there.”

Be­sides his stops in New Hamp­shire, Ehr­lich says he’s been in­vited to South Car­o­lina, Flor­ida, Rhode Is­land, Ver­mont, and New York for speak­ing en­gage­ments.

Ehr­lich ad­ded that he’s “ac­cept­ing in­vites from people who want to hear what I have to say.”

Paul Stein­haus­er is the polit­ic­al dir­ect­or of NH1.

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