|Rep. Ehrlich Ends 36 Years of Democratic Rule|
Nov. 5, 2002 -- Republican Robert Ehrlich defeated Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend for the Maryland governor's seat, polling especially well in rural areas and Baltimore suburban counties. Ehrlich becomes Maryland's fifth Republican governor in 100 years.
"Welcome to history," Ehrlich told a jubilant crowd of supporters. "To Republicans: our time in the desert is over."
Townsend remained strong in the state's three major population centers: the city of Baltimore and Montgomery and Prince George's counties -- but Ehrlich swept the rest of the state.
Johns Hopkins University professor Matthew Crenson said Maryland voters "are just sort of tired of the Democrats."
"I think that a combination of fatigue with the [Gov. Parris] Glendening administration and a faltering campaign on the part of Kathleen Kennedy Townsend combined to make Ehrlich a winner," he told the Associated Press.
Ehrlich, who was elected to his fourth term in the U.S. House of Representatives with 70 percent of the vote in 2000, held the conservative base of the party at bay while he courted independents and moderate Democrats. In the days before the election, Ehrlich hosted a rally with former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani.
Townsend, who had trouble shaking criticisms she was an ineffective lieutenant governor, campaigned with former President Bill Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore.
In her concession speech, Townsend asked her supporters to join the new governor in "doing what's right for Maryland."
"We did not win tonight, but I have no doubt that in the end our ideals will prevail," she said.
While Townsend failed in her bid to make history as Maryland's first woman governor, Ehrlich's running mate, Michael Steele, will become the state's first ever black lieutenant governor.