Ehrlich Beats Palin-Backed Candidate in GOP Primary for Maryland Governor

ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Former Gov. Robert Ehrlich defeated Sarah Palin-endorsed Brian Murphy for the Republican nomination on Tuesday, and Gov. Martin O'Malley won easily in the Democratic primary to set up a rematch of the 2006 Maryland governor's race.

O'Malley, who has been touting record investments in education despite tough economic times, told supporters he was looking forward to the Nov. 2 rematch.

"I'm looking forward to the next 50 days," O'Malley said at his campaign headquarters in Baltimore.

O'Malley acknowledged that Democrats in Maryland were fairing better than Democrats in many other states, and he attributed that to the nation's economic woes not being felt as deeply in Maryland.

"Our state is faring better than most states," O'Malley said. "I think people in our state are intelligent enough and fair enough to understand."

Ehrlich was scheduled to attend a rally at a Baltimore tavern on Tuesday night. Ehrlich's running mate, Mary Kane, beat the former governor to their victory party. She described primary day voters as "very enthusiastic."

"They are ready to get back to work here in Maryland, ready for more jobs, lower taxes and we'll be back to work tomorrow to make sure that happens," Kane said.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski easily won the Democratic primary in her bid to win a fifth term. A crowded field of Republicans are competing for the chance to go up against her.

"I think the voters are, first of all, looking for straight talk and plain talk," Mikulski said Tuesday night. "They don't want spin. They want straight talk about what you're going to do and how is it we know that we can trust you."

Mikulski said she's stressing jobs, education and "making our government work in a smarter and more frugal way."

"They know from my record, when Barbara Mikulski says she's going to do something, she works her earrings off until she gets it done," Mikulski said.

Eric Wargotz, a doctor who has served as a Queen Anne's County commissioner on the Eastern Shore, defeated 10 opponents to win the Republican Senate nomination to run against Mikulski.

Maryland's eight members of the House of Representatives prevailed in their primaries.

Republican State Sen. Andrew Harris was running against first-time candidate Rob Fisher to be the Republican nominee in Maryland's 1st District congressional race. Rep. Frank Kratovil, the first-term Democratic incumbent, was unopposed in the Democratic primary for that seat.

Voters supporting O'Malley cited his environmental policies directed at cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay and managing the state's budget during difficult recessionary times.

"I think he's done a reasonable job under very difficult circumstances," said Barry Kessler, 52, after voting in Arnold.

Ehrlich supporters said they chose him instead of Murphy because they believe the former governor stood a better chance of winning back the governorship for the GOP.

"I think he has a better chance of winning in November," said Tom McLaughlin, 47, after voting in Arnold.

Three Republicans are vying to take on Comptroller Peter Franchot, the Democratic incumbent. William Campbell, a former chief financial officer for Amtrak, is running against Armand Girard, a retired Baltimore teacher, and Brendan Madigan, an 18-year-old who is active in the tea party.

Tough primary battles will also be decided in several heated state Senate races in Montgomery and Prince George's counties.