Born in the suburbs of Baltimore and raised in a working class
family, Gov. Robert Ehrlich has built a political career as a
Republican in one of the bluest states in the nation.
Ehrlich's political career started in 1987 as a member of the
Maryland House of Delegates, representing parts of Baltimore County
and in 1994, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives
to the state's 2nd District.
2002, Ehrlich left Congress to campaign for governor with the
hope of becoming the first Republican in the state's executive
office since Spiro Agnew left in 1969 to become Richard Nixon's
vice president. He won with 52 percent of the vote, defeating
then-Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.
At the time, Ehrlich joined Govs. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts
and George Pataki of New York as Republican heads of largely Democratic
Now in 2006, Ehrlich faces a tough re-lection campaign against
his Democratic opponent, Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley.
Ehrlich's chances for re-election will likely lay with the governor's
ability to distance himself from the unpopular Bush administration
and focus on his accomplishments as governor. Following the same
tactics, Ehrlich's lieutenant governor, Michael Steele, has publicly
made statements criticizing President Bush in his campaign to
fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by the retiring Paul Sarbanes.
Throughout his term, Ehrlich has been at odds with the Democrat-led
state legislature over a variety of issues on which he has sided
with business interests and social conservatives.
In May 2006, the governor vetoed 24 bills passed by the legislature.
One of Ehrlich's vetoes received national attention because it
overturned a bill requiring companies with over 10,000 employees
to spend 8 percent of their payroll on health insurance; Wal-Mart
was the only Maryland company that fit the requirements of the
Ehrlich also vetoed a bill raising the minimum wage to $6.15
an hour and another extending certain rights -- including tax
exemptions -- to gay partners.
The Maryland Legislature, however, overturned the governor's
vetoes on the health care and minimum wage bills.
As governor, Ehrlich has pushed what he sees as a need for slot
machines in the state's dying horse racetracks. These initiatives,
which Ehrlich believes can provide needed educational funding,
have been blocked by the Maryland House Speaker Michael Busch
and are unlikely to pass before the election in November.
One of Ehrlich's rare bipartisan successes was the passage of
the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Act, a bill intended to limit pollutants
entering the bay from sewage plants. Earlier this year, however,
Ehrlich was unable to convince the federal government to fund
$12 billion for a Chesapeake clean-up program.
Ehrlich also has been successful in increasing funding for education,
keeping unemployment relatively low, and pursuing significant
transportation improvements to ease congestion in the state's
Ehrlich's running mate for lieutenant governor is Kristen Cox,
the state's secretary of the Department of Disabilities, a cabinet
position created by Ehrlich. Cox started losing her vision at
age 11 and is legally blind. She is 36 years old.
Ehrlich is married to Kendel Sibiski Ehrlich, and they have two
sons, Drew and Joshua. The governor attended Princeton University,
receiving a B.A. in political science in 1979. Ehrlich then continued
his studies at Wake Forest University School of Law, graduating
with a J.D. in 1982.