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Owings poised to challenge O'Malley in primary

John Wagner

Owings.jpgGeorge W. Owings III, a former state secretary of veterans affairs and former legislator from Southern Maryland, appears poised to formally announce a Democratic primary challenge to Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) next week.

Owings, a Democrat who served in the Republican administration of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), has scheduled a Jan. 6 news conference outside the courthouse in Prince Frederick to unveil his plans.

In an interview Monday, Owings, 64, declined to confirm he is running for governor in 2010 -- a prospect he has talked about openly since last spring -- but acknowledged he will not be endorsing O'Malley's re-election.

"You can assume that is correct," said Owings, a Dunkirk resident who has been highly critical of O'Malley's handling of the state budget. "I will be making a formal announcement. It will be positive in nature."

It remains to be seen what kind of traction, if any, Owings might gain running to the right of a far-better-funded incumbent in a Democratic primary.

"Historically, the liberal side of the party is what comes out in a primary," Owings said. "But I think there's a feeling in this current climate that is going to motivate those who would otherwise stay home to come out. There's a sense of desperation out there, of real fear."

Owings served for 16 years as a Democratic delegate, rising to majority whip, before he was tapped in 2004 as veterans secretary by Ehrlich, Maryland's first Republican chief executive in a generation. Owings was replaced by O'Malley four months into his administration in 2007.

Owings dismissed speculation that he is running at the urging of Ehrlich, who is still contemplating a rematch with O'Malley next year.

"I haven't spoken to the former governor in several months," Owings said.

Asked to assess O'Malley's governorship, Owings said, "I honestly think he has tried."

But among O'Malley's shortcomings, Owings said, has been a tendency to make incremental budget cuts rather than make longer-term changes. "He refuses to take those hard steps," Owings said.

By John Wagner  |  December 28, 2009; 10:13 AM ET
Categories:  2010 Elections , John Wagner  
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Sounds like a backdoor way in for the Republicans.

Posted by: jckdoors | December 28, 2009 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Believe me when I say that it's NOT a backdoor Republican approach. I have known Mr. Owings for 20+ years. I even suggested he file as an Independent but he is a Democrat with smarts and a true compassion for doing what's right for his constituents. Always has...always will. He is running because we asked him to help us save our Maryland from the path we are being taken on...without our consent. He truly is a politician of the people...and we need him to help get Maryland back on track.

Posted by: CherylEmery | December 28, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

We'll see. Thanks.

Posted by: jckdoors | December 28, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

I'll be taking a hard look at Owings. O'Malley is an absolute failure. That cowardly, pathetic excuse for a man won't take a stand on anything, licenses for illegals, substantive budget cuts in a recessionary economy, claiming the safety of MD residents as a primary objective but supporting sanctuary policies that have directly led to the murder of SEVERAL maryland residents in addition to supporting pro-illegal immigrant groups such as CASA de Maryland WITH TAXPAYER DOLLARS!!! (also during a recession). So if you're an unemployed tradesman in this economy, O'Malley is directly assisting the illegal alien workforce with your tax dollars!!! What a guy!! The coward even hosts a monthly online townhall meeting where residents can supposedly ask the gov anything they like, but they cherry pick all the questions because he's too much of a coward to field the difficult questions that he was elected to face. O'Malley is a spineless, gutless coward, can't wait to vote him out of office.

Posted by: islandhopper24 | December 28, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Owings is the kind of Democrat needed to repair the system O'Malley does not have the "cajones" to fix.

O'Malley's jobs plan is as empty as his slots plan: zero. The only job he is trying to save is his own.

Throw the bum out!!!

Wagner: where can we go to work, contribute and volunteer for Owings?

Posted by: tcs1999 | December 28, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Hey Owings, sir, please leave our crooked PG politicians of a certain color out the mix they are so corrupt. We need new like you to rid the slime-balls ruining and running our beloved P G County, Md in the sand of feces. MAke your pick, if it has to be from PG take a polygraph, pleeeese?

Posted by: foxxmacpryor | December 28, 2009 4:00 PM | Report abuse

So here we go again. Another pol saying OMalley won't make the hard decisions or make long term budget changes. So what do they want? What changes would they make? I'd love to have some serious oppostion to OMalley but i doubt that Owings has a snowballs chance in heck.

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Posted by: iofferkicks286msncom | December 28, 2009 6:55 PM | Report abuse

It might be worth registering as a Dem for a short period of time just to vote for Owings against O'Money. Unless Gov. Bob is running again, that is.

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | December 28, 2009 8:25 PM | Report abuse

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