|Robin Ficker (center) is mobbed by|
supporters after a 2017 speech in Rockville
Among other intriguing names on the ballot was Baltimore Orioles baseball legend Cal Ripken, Jr., who received only 0.3% as a write-in candidate. Other prominent potential candidates included State Senator Michael Hough, a highly-respected conservative who has raised his statewide profile with bipartisan efforts on sentencing and prison conditions; Brian Murphy, who excited many in the base with conservative bonafides on social issues when he challenged Gov. Bob Ehrlich in the 2010 primary - picking up a Sarah Palin endorsement in the process; and Maryland Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz, a former state delegate who has been seen as a promising statewide candidate by many in the party for over a decade. Schulz managed a strong showing at 5.6% among a list of dozens.
Prominent names missing from the poll included Wheel of Fortune host - and Annapolis resident - Pat Sajak, former Maryland First Lady Kendel Ehrlich, and 2014 gubernatorial candidate Charles Lollar. Lollar, of Charles County, has a resume from central casting as a successful businessman and Marine veteran. One of the relatively few Maryland Republicans who can deliver a stemwinder of a speech, Lollar is one of several African-American GOP stars in the state who haven't received the support they should have from the party during election season.
Obviously, if Ripken or Sajak were to enter the race, they would instantly be frontrunners. Ripken in particular would have tremendous bipartisan appeal, but there's no indication he's even considering a run.
Ficker remains a force in Montgomery County politics, as the only figure to repeatedly defeat the MoCo political cartel in recent times, with ballot measures that have capped property tax increases and established term limits for County Executive and County Council. The Washington Post damaged Ficker's fortunes by entirely ignoring those triumphs. Instead of giving Ficker his fair paragraphs as a seasoned politician who would bring that same skill to addressing the County's many crises, and who had more impact on the County than his opponents, the Post bizarrely described him as a "heckler" through the entire campaign year.