Ehrlich Concedes, O'Malley
By Chris Yakaitis and
David J. Silverman
| Anthony Brown, left, and Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley celebrate their wins for Maryland lieutenant governor and governor. (CNS-TV photo)
Wednesday, Nov. 8,
BALTIMORE- As Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich conceded defeat Wednesday,
Governor-elect Martin O'Malley promised to get to work
immediately on next year's state budget and said he would make
more funds for education one of his new administration's
Speaking to a packed news conference at Baltimore's City
Hall, an exhausted-looking O'Malley also promised to reach out
across party lines as he fills out his administration and
governs for the next four years.
"We are going to do our very best... to recruit the most
professional and committed people we can," he said. "We're going
to do this regardless of party, but conscious of the fact that
we also want a cabinet and a government that reflects our
greatest strength as a people, which is our diversity, and the
diversity of families involved in Maryland politics."
But, O'Malley indicated there would be no wholesale firing of
political appointees from the Ehrlich administration, in an
apparent effort to contrast his administration with that of
Ehrlich, who drew heavy criticism during his first years in
office for seeking to identify and fire Democrats.
"I am going to go after professionalism, and we're going to
recruit the most professional people we can find," O'Malley
said, drawing applause from his supporters.
Accompanied by his wife, Catherine Curran O'Malley, a
Baltimore judge, and by his running mate, Prince Georges County
Delegate Anthony Brown, O'Malley thanked the people of Baltimore
for supporting him for seven years as the city's mayor and in
his first run for statewide office.
"They have never ever let me down," he said, waxing poetic
about the city before preparing to relocate to Annapolis.
"There's been a lot of emotional moments over these last 24
hours, right? But certainly one of the most emotional ones was
when I was visiting polling places...and seeing my neighbors
lining up in the rain, with resolve on their faces and hope in
Appearing relaxed in a dark suit but no tie, O'Malley thanked
the "army of people" on his campaign who helped him take roughly
half of the vote in Baltimore County, where Ehrlich had secured
a large majority in the 2002 election.
He also thanked his wife
and children, and joked that his "100-hour plan" differed widely
from the one proposed by Nancy Pelosi, a native of Baltimore's
Little Italy who is the speaker-in-waiting in the new Democratic
House of Representatives.
"Hours one through 65 is sleep," he said. "Sixty-six through
100 is spending time with Katie, William and Grace and Tara and
Jack" - his wife and four children.
A few hours earlier, Ehrlich publicly conceded defeat in a
brief statement outside the governor's mansion in Annapolis.
Dressed in khaki pants and a Maryland basketball jacket as he
stood beside his running mate, Kristen Cox, Ehrlich said that he
had called O'Malley earlier in the morning to congratulate him
on his victory.
Absorbing his first electoral defeat in politics, the
48-year-old Ehrlich said his administration had kept its
promises and met its commitments. "One thing for sure, the next
administration will inherit a state in very good shape," he said
to applause from many of his supporters lined up on the grass.
According to unofficial results posted on the Maryland State
Board of Elections Web site, O'Malley topped Ehrlich by more
than 7 percentage points, or 119,134 votes.
Even so, the concession came as a surprise to many since
around 150,000 absentee ballots were still hanging in the
balance. The ballots, which Ehrlich urged his supporters to fill
out, are not opened until Thursday.
During his election night party in the early hours of
Wednesday morning, Ehrlich vowed to not give up until all of the
absentee ballots were counted. But later in the morning, he said
he had decided that while the absentees "may have cut the
margin," they would "probably not get us where we wanted to be
in the end."
About 69,000 absentee ballots were filled out by Democrats
while nearly 65,000 were completed by Republicans, according to
the Maryland State Board of Elections.
Ehrlich did not address his plans for the future or discuss
any of the reasons for his defeat. Nor did he field questions
from reporters following the appearance.
He thanked his staff and the people of Maryland for his
career in politics, which also included stints in the Maryland
House of Delegates and U.S. House of Representatives.
"I've had the ride of my life," he said. "I just cannot find
the words to thank the absolute love shown to me over the past
At City Hall, O'Malley said he was grateful for Ehrlich's
"I do appreciate his reaching out and his congratulations, and
I want to promise all of the people who did not vote for the
O'Malley-Brown team ... that we are going to work just as hard in
your best interest as we will for the people who voted for us,"
"The campaign's over, but the governing will
begin. And we need everybody, Democrats, Republicans and
independents. We are really humbled and honored."
On the subject of education, a focal point of his campaign,
O'Malley said he would fully fund the Thornton plan and school
construction budgets, work to make college tuitions more
affordable and develop better partnerships between the state
Board of Education and local school boards.
O'Malley said he
promised to bring the same consensus-building and idea-driven
leadership to Annapolis that he pursued as Baltimore's mayor. "I
consider myself a 'pragmacrat,'" he said, echoing statements
made on the campaign trail. "As long as it works, and it's good
for everybody, then we should pursue it."
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