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O'Malley: Party Couldn't Have Orchestrated Exit

Governor

Was Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley or the Maryland Democratic Party involved in Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan's abrupt exit from the governor's race?

O'Malley is asked about that rumor, which aired some time ago on WUSA-TV, in a wide-ranging interview that appears in the September issue of Baltimore Smart CEO.

Asked if he would like to comment on the rumor about Duncan, who cited clinical depression as his reason for leaving the race in June, here's what O'Malley says:

"Yeah. An effort like that would require planning and initiative, and those are two things the Democratic Party isn't capable of. We tried to move the early primary, and even with majority control of the state legislature, did not suceed. So, that sort of orchestrated conspiratorial effort did not happen."

The magazine plans to publish a lengthy interview with Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., the Republican incumbent, in September. Both interviews are now available on the publication's Web site, www.smartceo.com

By John Wagner  |  August 30, 2006; 7:16 AM ET
Categories:  Governor  
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Comments

Duncan is responsible for his exit.

O'Malley had nothing to do with it.

Here's what really happened:

Thursday, May 25, 2006: Duncan is phoned by a Washington Post reporter for comment on a Duncan-Abramoff corruption story, which will appear in the next morning's paper.

Thursday, May 25, 2006 (One hour later): Duncan makes televised announcement that he will "return Abramoff contributions."

Friday, May 26, 2006: The first of three Duncan-Abramoff stories appears on page A1 of the Washington Post.

Saturday, May 27, 2006: The second (more detailed) Duncan-Abramoff corruption story appears on page A1 of the Washington Post.

Saturday, May 27, 2006 (PM): Terry Lierman (Chair, MD Democratic Party) phones Duncan. Duncan and Lierman scream at each other during most of the call. Lierman asked Doug, "Why didn't you come forward about this earlier?" "How in the **** can the Democratic Party support you in light of the Abramoff corruption charges?" "After all, we Democrats were going to differentiate ourselves with the fact that our gubernatorial candidates (O'Malley and Duncan) are clean (i.e. didn't take money from Jack Abramoff, like Ehrlich did)." Lierman asked Duncan to step aside. Doug BSs his way through the rest of the call saying things like, a.) "Let's see the effect this has on my campaign (polling, etc)," b.) "Let's see how much money I bring in post-Abramoff story," c.) "And besides Terry, if I win the primary, what are you going to do, support Ehrlich?"

During the Month of June 2006: Duncan calls in all of his favors and Duncan's campaign donations still tank. The amount of contributions from new donors drops to near zero (after all, who wants to be on an Abramoff contributor list?). Polling is much worst showing that O'Malley is up by 19 points.

Earlier June 2006: Duncan starts another kind of campaign; this one calls anyone who believes the Duncan-Abramoff corruption story (and anyone, who opposed the two schools-for-dollars deals) an anti-Semite. In light of the upcoming election, when asked to help with this tactic, Silverman and Subin decline. Al Wynn agrees to make a statement at a synagogue groundbreaking in Olney about how bad anti-Semitism is in Montgomery County. In the end, Duncan's divide-and-conquer tactics don't play.

Mid June 2006: Duncan is contacted by the FBI again. The FBI is considering re-opening its investigation now that the Abramoff connection is known.

Mid June 2006: Duncan campaign is running out of money (the only thing left is the $400K he brought from his executive campaign war chest). Very few contributions are coming in. Duncan is way down in the polls. It appears that the Washington Post will never endorse him. All the momentum is lost. Duncan sees no way he can win. Now he has to figure out a way to bow out without saying he's a loser and if his reason for dropping out helps to fend off the FBI, all the better.

Monday, June 19, 2006: Duncan claims to visit a psychiatrist for the first time.

Monday, June 19, 2006: After one visit, Duncan's psychiatrist diagnoses him with "clinical depression."

Wednesday, June 21, 2006: After receiving the diagnosis of "clinical depression" just 48 hours earlier and not getting a second opinion, Duncan decides (for purely health reasons) to step out of the governors race and to leave public office all together, effectively ending a 25 year political career.

Thursday, June 22, 2006: Duncan formally announces his decision to step aside.

Friday, June 23, 2006 forward: Duncan effectively goes into hiding, making only a handful of public appearances.

Sunday, August 13, 2006: The third Duncan-Abramoff corruption story appears on page C1 of the Washington Post, detailing how Duncan defrauded Montgomery County out of $23M.

Wednesday, September 6, 2006: Duncan goes to the hospital for hip surgery (apparently the real thing).

First week of December, 2006: Duncan surfaces again, walking with the assistance of a cane, looking like a senior statesman and hands the reigns to Montgomery County's next executive.

December 2006 forward: Other than possible indictments stemming from an FBI investigation, Duncan fades into obscurity.

From one who knows

Posted by: One who knows | August 30, 2006 11:15 AM | Report abuse

"An effort like that would require planning and initiative, and those are two things the Democratic Party isn't capable of."

Gotta give Mayor O'Malley a nod for his honest.

Posted by: Rufus | August 30, 2006 2:18 PM | Report abuse

One who knows forgot to talk about the Steny Hoyer and Mike Miller phone calls that came before the Duncan-Abramoff scuffle.

Posted by: Bryan | August 30, 2006 2:36 PM | Report abuse

To "one who knows": I'm always ready to believe the worst about Duncan, but I'm not willing to do so based on your anonymous allegations. I don't see how anybody (but Duncan himself) could "know" all that you claim to. Care to explain?

Posted by: Pepe le Moco | August 30, 2006 2:43 PM | Report abuse

'One who knows," do you work for the O'Malley campaign? See every indication I'd heard stated Duncan's fundraising had been picking up in May-June, not the other way around. This leads me to believe you're either a Dem State Party employee trying to bolster O'Malley or an O'Malley staffer or just a lunatic making up stuff.

Posted by: Bryan | August 30, 2006 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Wow! Thanks. I believe it.

Posted by: Aghast in Silver Spring | August 30, 2006 4:31 PM | Report abuse

I'm not a Duncan fan at all although I'll give the guy some credit for doing some of the right things here and there in his political career, which of course is now over. And I think he should cease supporting the slate he supported in 2002 so we can finally toss the developer-worshiping At-Large incumbents (Floreen, Subin and Leventhal) on the Council OUT in this election as well as their pal Slippery Stevie Silverman. Instead of resurfacing just before the primary, Duncan should do us all a favor and quietly disappear to go and mend whatever ails him.

The "one who knows" explanation of events is entirely plausible given what we do know just from the Post stories about the Duncan-Abramoff scandal. But here's the one comment that I take exception to in the "one who knows" time table:

Monday, June 19, 2006: After one visit, Duncan's psychiatrist diagnoses him with "clinical depression."

It is entirely possible to have a diagnosis of clinical depression after one session in counseling. There are tests and criteria identified in the DSM codes to diagnose depression pretty quickly. I can say this as "one who knows" because that is the experience that I had when I was once diagnosed with clinical depression.

And yes, O'Malley is honest and rocks in a lot of ways. He'll make a great governor.


Posted by: Frank in Silver Spring | August 30, 2006 5:10 PM | Report abuse

The broad based support Stu Simms is picking up for the Attorney General's race belies any notion that the Duncan/Simms team was losing quantum suppport. Quite the contrary--the fact that they were picking up support and got the majority of votes for the MSTA endorsement panicked the party leaders who had thrown everything behind O'Malley. It is obvious that had Duncan stayed in the race, he would have crushed O'Malley in the Primary.

Posted by: Marc Jan | August 30, 2006 5:15 PM | Report abuse

O'Malley honest, great governor, well maybe you should take a visit to the pyschologist too... =)

Posted by: Bryan | August 30, 2006 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Frank in Silver Spring, for reminding us clinical depression is a serious thing. Let's hope Duncan gets better and feels better soon. He didn't look very good that last time I saw him. The Abramoff stuff is devastating. That would make me very depressed. He'll need that new private sector job to pay his team of attorneys. And whoever said it, I agree O'Malley will be a great Maryland Governor. I hope he chooses a distinguished Cabinet. And, to somebody else, Simms is good too. So at the end of the day this might all work out.

Posted by: Poll Watcher | August 30, 2006 6:02 PM | Report abuse

And it's hardly obvious that Duncan would have crushed O'Malley. And I like O'Malley.

Posted by: Poll Watcher | August 30, 2006 6:05 PM | Report abuse


Re Marc's post about Stu Simms picking up support being related to Duncan -- why not give Simmns more credit than that? He may be getting resounding support because he's a highly qualified and viable candidate with merits of his own, and not from being on Duncan's coattails.

And Bryan, regarding this post: "O'Malley honest, great governor, well maybe you should take a visit to the pyschologist too... =)": Wow, are you a Democrat? If so, it's sad to see Democrats cannibalize each other in Maryland. Maybe you should check into some anger management classes Bryan.

It's also possible that Martin O'Malley could end up nominating Duncan for a cabinet position. I wouldn't rule that out. He's a smart guy who recognizes Duncan's strong points. I agree with Poll Watcher that this all might out well at the end of the day. Thanks Poll Watcher for that note of optimism.

Posted by: Frank in Silver Spring | August 31, 2006 9:35 AM | Report abuse

A lot of Ehrlich supporters now like to spread the idea that Duncan was about to catch and defeat O'Malley-and maybe even Ehrlich himself-and that a dirty trick did him in. Duncan had spent a lot of early money to beat Martin to TV and the polls had tightened as a result. He really didn't have the money to compete with both O'Malley in the primary and then the Guv's warchest in the fall.

Simms' "quantum support" is endorsements based on his record and accomplishments. It isn't money at all. He trails Gansler by a huge amount in that department and has been as lacking in resources as Mfume, the other statewide candidate who seems to be picking up an endorsement per day. Fortunately, the AG race isn't as fund driven as Guv or Senate, so Simms still has a pretty good shot.

Posted by: howie | August 31, 2006 12:06 PM | Report abuse

IS DUNCAN'S CLINICAL DEPRESSION FOR REAL?

I agree 100% with "one who knows" about Duncan debacle. The chronology of the events and tracking done by other known sources certainly tally. How depressing, must it be to hide ill gotten wealth!

Duncan fell victim to a local "cabal" that exploited his gubernatorial ambitions to the hilt and then ditched him. Besides, Jerry Pasternak is being cited as the one responsible for Duncan's debacle-- he packed the local government with cronies, defrauded the county of millions and criminalized the democratic polity-- all this has played a part in the FBI knocking on Duncan's door.

If Duncan is really "clinically" depressed, why is he actively campaigning for Attorney General candidate Simms, posing for photos, pressing flesh at metro stations and dispensing his leftover campaign funds $6000 a piece to those candidates who are eager to vow their allegiance to him? A quick review of his medical records and treatment will provide the real answer. Duncan is actually coping with stress generated by the FBI inquiry. Don't be surprised if he lands in hospital after Labor Day.

Politically, Duncan is finished. His "end gridlock" slate will be wiped out this time!

Posted by: Merlin | August 31, 2006 8:37 PM | Report abuse

Merlin-- You are a coward not just a nutjob. If you had any guts or worth as a human being, you'd post your true name and identity for us all to know. You're pathetic, absolutelty stone cold pathetic.

Posted by: steve | September 6, 2006 8:15 PM | Report abuse

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