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Schaefer's Challengers Turn on Each Other

A war of words has erupted between the two candidates seeking to oust fellow Democrat William Donald Schaefer as Maryland comptroller.

As the incumbent and a legend in Maryland politics, former governor and Baltimore mayor, the 84-year-old Schaefer remains the man to beat for the job. But Del. Peter Franchot, (D-Montgomery County) and Anne Arundel County Executive Janet Owens have been aiming much of their fire at each other lately.

Owens has been irritated by Franchot's assertation that she is "pro-sprawl, pro-slots and pro-Bob Ehrlich," a reference to the Republican governor.

When Franchot sent Owens a August 3 letter -- on his campaign letterhead with the slogan "The Only Democrat for Comptroller" -- questioning her commitment to "working men and women" in Maryland, Owens responded with a broadside she released to the press.

Franchot's letter, she wrote in her August 7 reply, "only continues your pattern of misleading the public and the media about my record and my core democratic values.

"Your claim that you are the 'only democrat for Comptroller' is utterly ridiculous," she added. "I will match my record of 44 years as a Democrat with anyone."

Owens also accused Franchot of hypocricy for his claim that she supports slots in Maryland, pointing to his own support for a bill for video lottery terminals in 2001. "You co-sponsored a constitutional amendment to allow for slots and then you took the position that you were adamantly opposed to slots," Owens wrote. "Which is it?"

In his response to Owens on August 8, Franchot said he has since come to recognize that "slot machines are merely toxic agents of addiction, bankruptcy and crime."

Franchot offered no olive branch to Owens, claiming that she has worked to transform residential areas of Anne Arundel into "congested centers of over-development."

"I can assure you that your relationship with Anne Arundel County land developers remains the stuff of local legend," Franchot wrote.

"I . . . eagerly await your response," Franchot added.

By Phyllis Jordan  |  August 9, 2006; 6:26 AM ET
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Those two are a tempest in a teapot. Schaefer will win the primary and in November with the greatest of ease.

Posted by: Steve | August 9, 2006 8:26 AM | Report abuse

If they continue to shoot at each other, I agree. Based on the last poll I saw and all of "Don Donaldo"'s missteps, however, he really should be history.

It's hard to believe that the undecided vote will return to him, but with Owens and Franchot more worried about busting up each other they might.

Posted by: howie | August 9, 2006 8:46 AM | Report abuse

Anne Arundel is a tax capped County. Anne Arundel County has become a model US County in the last 8 years during Mrs. Owens' tenure. She brought it into the 21st century. She has preserved more agricultural and open space land than the previous 7 administrations put together. Many of the over development issues were approved by her predessor administration. Some business is necessary in all communities for a myriad of reasons. Mrs. Owens has been a wise steward of AA County money. Just look at what has happened for Emergency Management in the last year with the new center and new vehicle. Direct effect of Mrs. Owens fiscal responsibility. Don't sell her short.

Posted by: dac | August 9, 2006 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Here is why Janet Owens can't win: If I asked 100 of my neighbors or coworkers about her, 90 percent would not have heard of her. At least. Does she even have a campaign?

The only time I ever hear her name is when it has something to do with Peter Franchot.

Franchot should forget about her--he's only helping her meager name recognition.

She has zero meaninful endorsements. In Prince George's where I live, elected leaders and prominent groups have swarmed to Franchot.

Posted by: who is Janet Owens | August 9, 2006 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Peter Franchot's a left wing nut. Janet Owens is stuck playing catchup (above poster is right--her name recognition outside of Baltimore media market is about as high as oh say Tom Perez's in Ocean City). Schaeffer wins because he's a. incumbent b. high name recognition c. not left of left like Franchot.

Posted by: Bryan | August 9, 2006 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Janet Owens laid off cops post 9-11 in a year that the county had a surplus. The county had just invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in their training. She also quit hiring needed paramedics and fire fighters that same year. Why? Because of political spite toward two councilmembers. This is the record she runs on.

Posted by: carol | August 9, 2006 10:08 AM | Report abuse

I find it hilarious that Freaky Franchot has been running for Comptroller for almost a year now, but the latest poll showed that he only has half the voter support that Owens has even though she just barely entered the race.

Posted by: MD voter | August 9, 2006 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Freaky Franchot? Come on. The guy is a smart, get things done politician.

He played a prominent role in being the anti-Ehrlich quote machine in the fight against slots. Someone needed to fill that role, and he was it.

He organized two "progressive summits" to help reinvigorate progressive politics in Maryland. No one else did it--Franchot did.

The guy has gotten the endorsement of conservation groups, teachers, labor groups, about every democratic club that has endorsed, and more elected officials than any of the other candidates in the race. These suggest that your impression doesn't square with those of the people with whom he works and who would rely in him to get the job done.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 10:54 AM | Report abuse

As a life-long Democrat, anything that helps re-elect William Donald Schaefer is okay by me.

Posted by: James | August 9, 2006 11:26 AM | Report abuse

As an Anne Arundel County resident, Franchot's remarks that Owens is pro-development is right on the mark. I challenge any Owens supporter to name one development that Owens has opposed in her 8 years of running the county. Traffic is terrible, the schools are all overcrowded, and all Owens promises is more of the same.

Posted by: Ike | August 9, 2006 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Just from reading the posting on this board it was obvious the two newcomers would turn on each other and Willie Don was skate in for another term.

Posted by: Rufus | August 9, 2006 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Would skate in, that is.

Posted by: Rufus | August 9, 2006 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Janet Owens deserves to be our next comptroller! Franchot has done nothing, he has never held a high management job, he is a flipflopper and an idiot. We all agree its time for willie don to go, so it is imperative that we vote for Owens this september. She has done wonderful things for AA county. What has franchot ever done for anyone? Its a no brainer people.

Posted by: glen | August 9, 2006 2:21 PM | Report abuse

"As a life-long Democrat, anything that helps re-elect William Donald Schaefer is okay by me."
You have either been asleep since 1990 or you really aren't a Democrat.

Schaefer is a D.I.N.O.

Posted by: howie | August 9, 2006 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Janet Owens is clearly the best chance democrats have of beating Schaefer. Franchot has lied about his record from the start - flip lops on slots - tax increases and he even voted for electricity deregulation that raised our bills. Owens record in Anne Arundel County shows she is the only competent person in the race.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2006 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Franchot=Freak of the far left wing. If he leaned any further left, he'd fall over. This is Ms. Owens' race to win. Her record in Anne Arundel far supercedes any sort of legislative record Franchot can lay claim to. She's the only one who can knock off that bizarro Schaefer.

Posted by: Washington Wizard | August 9, 2006 3:24 PM | Report abuse

If Willie Don wins the primary, I'm going to hold my nose and vote GOP for comptroller, as long as their candidate is continent.

Posted by: The Cosmic Avenger | August 9, 2006 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Janet Owens has earned the title "Queen of Sprawl" because she pushed development over everything else.

She is completely unreliable and untrustworthy.

She is only in this race as a spoiler.

She is bad news for Maryland and should never be elected to anything ever again.

Posted by: Dan Walter | August 10, 2006 8:13 AM | Report abuse

Dan Walter is spot on. The Queen of Sprawl is a DINO, and has done much to destroy the Democratic Party, and our quality of life in Anne Arundel County. It's unfortunate that Willy Don is going to win, but frankly, I would rather have that senile nut than the developer-owned Owens as Comptroller.

Posted by: Anne Arundel Resident | August 10, 2006 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Without development, housing prices soar, affecting lower-income citizens the hardest.

Anti-sprawl advocates have no compassion for the poor and are usually closet racists living in majority-white neighborhoods.

Posted by: Rufus | August 10, 2006 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Rufus is living in a fantasy land. The truth, as is obvious to anyone living in a sprawling County, is that new development doesn't pay its own way, and existing residents end up subsidizing the development that destroys their communities. Until we have impact fees that are accurate, this will continue to be the case.

Posted by: Anne Arundel Resident | August 10, 2006 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, AA Resident, but I'm living in economic reality. So which is it for you, no compassion for the poor or living in a majority-white neighborhood, perhaps both?

Posted by: Rufus | August 11, 2006 8:50 AM | Report abuse

To set the record straight about development in Anne Arundel County -- developers are not building low income housing in our County. New townhomes in Crofton start at $500,000. Condos near Annapolis start near $250,000. As lofty and good a goal as providing low to moderate income housing is, the reality is that over the last 8 years developers in Anne Arundel County are not interested in helping low to moderate income households. Try to buy a new house in Anne Arundel for anything less than $200,000. Those days are over. Owens has made sure of it.

Posted by: Ike | August 11, 2006 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Rufus is simply incorrect. A report put together by a consultant to AA County showed that each new home built costs existing residents over $6,000 in additional infrastructure needs. Owens ignored it.

Owens also opposed an affordable housing bill, like the one in Montgomery County, that came before the Council a couple of years ago. Her allegiance is to the developers who fund her campaigns, not to the people of Anne Arundel.

Posted by: Anne Arundel Resident | August 12, 2006 9:19 AM | Report abuse

For anyone interested in learning more about the only candidate who has a real chance at ending Schaefer's years in entertainment, please visit

Posted by: Mac | August 15, 2006 5:14 PM | Report abuse

The Queen of Sprawl? I don't think so. Her reign of terror can't end soon enough.

Posted by: Anne Arundel Resident | August 16, 2006 4:13 PM | Report abuse

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