- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 27, 2006

Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan has chosen as his gubernatorial running mate Stuart O. Simms, the former state corrections chief and a former Baltimore state’s attorney, sources close to the Duncan campaign said.

Mr. Simms, 55, a black Baltimore lawyer, is expected to help Mr. Duncan make some inroads in the back yard of Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley, who is vying with Mr. Duncan for the Democratic nomination.

“I think it’s a great choice,” said Rep. Albert Wynn, a Democrat who represents Montgomery and Prince George’s County who has endorsed Mr. Duncan. “I see someone who knows the state, he knows the legislature, and I think he will do a great job as lieutenant governor. He, of course, brings regional balance, joining Baltimore city together with the Washington suburbs.”

The Duncan campaign last night had not yet officially confirmed Mr. Simms’ selection, but sources close to the campaign said Mr. Simms had accepted the offer to join the ticket.

An official announcement is expected Wednesday.

Mr. Simms did not return a phone call to his law office.

Race has played a key role in campaigns this year, in which Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele — the first black to win statewide office — is running for the U.S. Senate and gubernatorial candidates have made special efforts to court black voters, particularly in Prince George’s County.

Mr. O’Malley earlier had chosen as his running mate Delegate Anthony G. Brown, 44, a black Prince George’s County Democrat. An Army veteran, Mr. Brown is the House majority whip.

Mr. Simms was appointed Baltimore’s state’s attorney in 1987 and was re-elected twice. In 1995, Gov. Parris N. Glendening, a Democrat, appointed Mr. Simms as secretary of juvenile justice.

Mr. Glendening then appointed Mr. Simms as secretary of public safety and correctional services in 1997. He served in that post until 2003 and has since worked at the Baltimore law firm of Brown, Goldstein and Levy LLP.

Mr. Simms graduated from Harvard Law School in 1975.

Baltimore State’s Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy, who has endorsed Mr. Duncan and advised him on his choice, said she was “very, very pleased” with Mr. Simms’ choice.

“He’s a person who brings a lot to the ticket,” she said. “You want someone who has experience and maturity but also a lot of integrity.”

Mr. Duncan initially had promised to make his running-mate choice before the General Assembly began in January.

But as winter dragged on and polls showed Mr. O’Malley ahead by double digits, Mr. Duncan’s fundraising lagged far behind Mr. O’Malley’s.

A recent poll by Gonzales Research and Marketing Strategies, however, shows that the Duncan campaign is within 9 percentage points of the O’Malley campaign.

“He has been gaining momentum,” Mr. Wynn said of Mr. Duncan. “He’s not only not dropped out, he’s climbing in the polls and he’s got a great choice for lieutenant governor.”

Mr. Simms likely will provide Mr. Duncan with some name recognition in Baltimore and the surrounding area.

“He’s very well respected around here,” Mrs. Jessamy said of Mr. Simms. “He has a lot of name recognition.

“He’s going to be a very hard campaigner,” she added. “When he was state’s attorney, there were jokes about him about being cloned, because it seemed like he was everywhere at once.”

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican seeking re-election, is the only major candidate without a running mate.

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