- The Washington Times - Monday, August 29, 2005

ANNAPOLIS (AP) — Dr. Lise Van Susteren, a Montgomery County psychiatrist, will announce her candidacy for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate on Thursday at two events in Baltimore and Bethesda.

A press release issued yesterday said Dr. Van Susteren will speak out on the need to improve public schools and the health care system and will challenge the Bush administration on the conduct of the war in Iraq.

Dr. Van Susteren — the sister of Greta Van Susteren, host of the Fox News Channel’s “On the Record” interview program — is the mother of three teenagers and the wife of Jonathan Kempner, president and chief executive officer of the Mortgage Bankers Association in Washington.

The Baltimore Sun reported yesterday that Josh Rales, another Montgomery County Democrat and the owner of a real estate investment firm, has hired a campaign manager and a media firm and will announce next month whether he also will enter the Democratic Senate primary next year.

Two well-known Democrats — former Rep. Kweisi Mfume and Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, both of Baltimore — have entered the race and are campaigning and raising funds. On the Republican side, Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele is considering running for the seat that will open up with the retirement of Democrat Paul S. Sarbanes.

Dr. Van Susteren, 54, is a forensic psychiatrist who moved to Maryland from the District less than two years ago. She is being aided by Tad Devine, a strategist who has worked for former Vice President Al Gore and former Sen. Bob Kerrey. She also has received training from EMILY’s List, an organization that supports the election of pro-choice Democratic women to public office.

Mr. Rales, 47, switched to the Democratic Party last year after a decade as a Republican, saying he was disillusioned by the Republican Party’s position on social issues and a lack of fiscal discipline.

The Sun said Mr. Rales thinks a campaign would cost up to $7 million and is prepared to spend $5 million of his own money to win the nomination.

Both face formidable challenges running against Mr. Cardin and Mr. Mfume. Mr. Cardin has a long record of service in the state legislature, where he was House speaker, and in Congress. He has the support of many Democratic elected officials.

Mr. Mfume, after serving in Congress, was executive director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He is the only black candidate of note who has signaled intentions to run next year, which would be a big plus, given the large number of black voters in Democratic primaries.

“It’s really a long shot,” Matthew Crenson, head of the political science department at Johns Hopkins University, told the Sun. “It’s not likely they are going to make much headway against seasoned and well-known political figures like Cardin and Mfume.”

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