By Joseph Weber-The Washington Times
The “tea party” movement that staged upset midterm victories from the rugged Westto the Deep South faces tough challenges next month in the Mid-Atlantic states of Maryland and Delaware â€” Democratic strongholds where more established, well-funded candidates have big leads in the marquee races.
In Maryland, investor and GOP gubernatorial candidate Brian Murphy has a Sarah Palin endorsement and support from one tea party group â€”Â the Maryland Society of Patriots.
But former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. is expected to easily win the Sept. 14 Republican primary, then face Gov. Martin O’Malley, the Democratic incumbent, in a rematch of the 2006 contest.
Mr. Ehrlich and Mr. O’Malley are now essentially tied at 44.5 percent with just 3 percent going to the remaining candidates, according to a Rasmussen Reports poll last week.
Tea party candidates have lost other primaries or now trail in general election polls, but the Mid-Atlantic has its own circumstance.
“The South and West are notoriously suspicious of Washington,” said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. “The Mid-Atlantic has more liberal states.”
He said Mr. Ehrlich is among the Republican candidates who are likely better off without anti-establishment endorsements because registered Democratic voters outnumber Republicans nearly 3-to-1 in Maryland.
“The only way Ehrlich can win in November is to prevail upon voters that he’s a moderate,” Mr. Sabato said.
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