Former Opponent Duncan Criticizes O'Malley Campaign
More than 300 endorsements 14 months from Election Day, without a glimpse of an opponent on the horizon.
Many in Annapolis viewed the laundry list of Maryland Democrats released Thursday by Gov. Martin O'Malley's (D) fledgling re-election campaign as an early show of strength - a warning to anyone even thinking about challenging him to just stop now and forget about it.
Not everyone, however, was intimidated.
Absent from the pledges were the names of nearly half of Prince George's 31-member delegation and that of County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D).
And in Montgomery County, where almost every state delegate and senator did sign up, one former political figure who still looms large said he views the O'Malley campaign's rush to release endorsements skeptically.
"I think it frankly shows that they're concerned and insecure" about the governor's accomplishments, said Douglas M. Duncan (D), Montgomery County's longtime executive and a former O'Malley opponent in the 2006 Democratic primary.
"He's in over his head, you know, this every-three-months-we're-going-to-make-cuts-to-the-budget, he's reacting; he has no vision ... he's not engaged."
"I'm afraid," Duncan said "of what another four years of this governor may do for the state."
Duncan dropped out of the 2006 primary citing a clinical diagnosis of depression, but said that after treatment he now feels "better than ever." In the last year, he's been increasingly critical of O'Malley.
In an interview on Friday, he went so far as to question if many of O'Malley's endorsements from elected leaders came under duress. "Sign, or else" risk losing additional state aid in likely rounds of coming budget cuts, he said.
"I think a lot of this is elected leaders doing what they need to do right now to protect their constituents," Duncan said, adding that he believes if a challenger threatens O'Malley, the early endorsements will mean nothing. "They will walk away if they think the governor's in trouble," he said. "They will walk away very quickly."
So, did the O'Malley campaign threaten lawmakers to win endorsements? "Of course not," said Tom Russell, who launched O'Malley's re-election campaign last month. Russell declined to comment further on Duncan's statements.
One elected official from Prince George's who did endorse O'Malley said he knew more than a dozen of his colleagues in the county did not sign for exactly the opposite reason.
A block of Prince George's lawmakers are withholding support until they have assurances of protection from serious budget cuts, he said.
"They're trying to keep [O'Malley] honest so he doesn't make cuts that hurt Prince George's County," said the official, who asked that his name be withheld so as not to jeopardize relationships with colleagues. The official went on to question whether that strategy was wise, given O'Malley's already seemingly wide base of support.
Johnson, who has said he is considering a run for an unspecified statewide office, did not respond to a request for comment.
Will Duncan run?
"I'm talking to people, I'm sure there will be at least one challenger to O'Malley in the Democratic primary," Duncan said. "There's enough people concerned about where he's not taking the state and the bad decisions he is making."
-- Aaron C. Davis and Jonathan Mummolo
Aaron C. Davis
September 5, 2009; 3:30 PM ET
Categories: Aaron C. Davis , Governor , Jonathan Mummolo , Montgomery County , Prince George's County
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