President Bush helped raise $1 million Wednesday to boost the effort to give a second term in the Maryland governor's office to a Republican for the first time in half a century.

Maryland's GOP governor, Robert Ehrlich, faces a difficult re-election battle in November. The first Republican elected governor of this traditionally Democratic state in 38 years, he has two potentially strong Democratic challengers: Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley and Doug Duncan, county executive of Maryland's most populous county.

"Some people talk a good game," Bush said of Ehrlich before well-heeled supporters at a cocktail reception at an airport hotel. "This man has delivered."

The event raised $1 million for the state GOP.

Notably absent was Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, the Republican seeking the state's open U.S. Senate seat. With several Democrats vying to run against him, Republicans see the race as a good chance to pick off a Senate seat now held by Democrats. Five-term Democratic Sen. Paul Sarbanes is retiring.

Steele's campaign said he was in Las Vegas on Wednesday for a fundraiser that had been on his calendar for months.

As donors waited for Bush to speak, Ehrlich said the event and others like it are crucial to Maryland Republicans' hopes to turn the Democratic stronghold into a two-party state.

"It's about realignment," he said.