Md. Politicians Mull Future, Eat Crabs
Gov. O'Malley meets a fan of his band at the Crisfield crab and clam bake on Wednesday. (John Wagner/The Washington Post)
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D)was the biggest head-turner on the grounds of an annual crab and clam bake in Crisfield today, but he was joined by several would-be successors from both political parties.
George Owings, a former state delegate from Southern Maryland who served as veteran affairs secretary under former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), said he is continuing to mull a Democratic primary challenge against O'Malley next year, suggesting "the decision is all but made."
"We are more actively engaged in somewhat limited fundraising," said Owings, who would run to O'Malley's right. "I'm getting more energized as time goes by, coming to events like this."
Also milling the grounds of the 33rd Annual J. Millard Tawes Crab and Clam Bake was former Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D), who aborted his 2006 primary bid against O'Malley, citing clinical depression. Rumors have been circulating that Duncan is interested in getting back in the game, something he did not address head on this afternoon.
"I'm all about saying hi to some old friends and eating some Smith Island cake," Duncan said, as he partook from the spread in a tent hosted by fabled Annapolis lobbyist Bruce Bereano.
Owings at least seemed more forthcoming about Duncan's intentions than Duncan.
"He's like me," Owings said. "From what I gather, he's not happy with the state of the state ... There's got to be some self-restraint and control on spending, and it's almost too late now."
Ehrlich, who is not expected to announce whether he will seek a rematch with O'Malley for a few more months, did not attend the event, which draws thousands annually to a marina in this quaint Eastern Shore city. Though the food is the main attraction -- $40 buys all the crabs, fried fish, corn on the cob and beer that you can stomach -- the annual gathering attracts political aspirants from far away, particularly as election season draws near.
Larry Hogan, who served as Ehrlich's appoints secretary, was among the "mentioned" Republican gubernatorial hopefuls making the rounds. Hogan, a former congressional candidate, downplayed any potential plans, only allowing that he would "never say never."
"I'm just out here enjoying the day," Hogan said. "At this point, I'm still pushing Bob Ehrlich to run. I think he's earned his right to take as much time as he wants to make his decision."
Sounding more definite was Charles Lollar, the chairman of the GOP executive committee in Charles County. He is the subject of a draft movement for governor.
"We're pretty serious at this point," Lollar said. "We're about 98, 99 percent of the way there."
Mike Pappas, a Baltimore County attorney also considering a GOP bid, was also on hand, with a tent and supporters wearing t-shirts bearing his logo.
Other pols on the path of statewide note included: Lt Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D), a possible gubernatorial contender, but not until 2014; Comptroller Peter Franchot (D); and Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith, who recently announced his would not challenge Franchot in the Democratic primary.
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