- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 24, 2005

It sounded like Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan made his designs on the governor’s mansion official Monday — but his staff says not just yet.

“I want to be the next governor of Maryland,” Mr. Duncan told the Allegany County Democratic Central Committee on Monday during the group’s Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner.

“What Maryland needs is a leader who’s going to set the right priorities for this state and who’s going to stay committed to make sure those priorities get implemented, those priorities get done, and we move on to solve the next problems in front of us. And, ladies and gentleman, that’s why I want to be the next governor of Maryland,” the Cumberland Times-News reports Mr. Duncan as saying.

But officials with Mr. Duncan’s office say that the seeming statement of intent was no different from anything else he’s been saying or doing recently.

“He didn’t say anything different [Monday] night than he’s been saying for months — that he’s concerned about the current direction of the state. He’ll make his official intentions known at an appropriate time,” said David Weaver, a Duncan spokesman.

Mr. Duncan has not declared his candidacy for the 2006 Maryland gubernatorial race or organized an exploratory committee. He has, however, hired Louisiana political strategist Scott Arceneaux, former executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party, and is “definitely exploring the race,” Mr. Weaver said.

Mr. Weaver said he does not know when Mr. Duncan will file as a candidate.

Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley, also a Democrat, has announced repeatedly that he is “laying the groundwork for a run for governor,” Mr. Weaver said, and Mr. O’Malley has not officially declared his candidacy or organized an exploratory committee.

A Baltimore Sun poll in April showed Mr. O’Malley leading Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. 45 percent to 39 percent. According to the poll, Mr. O’Malley also would have an edge in the Democratic primary over Mr. Duncan, 45 percent to 25 percent, with 29 percent undecided.

Mr. Ehrlich’s running mate in 2002, Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, might not be at the governor’s side this time. Mr. Steele is considering a run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Paul S. Sarbanes, 72, who is retiring.

An April poll by Potomac Survey Research showed Mr. Steele running about even with three Democrats — U.S. Reps. Benjamin L. Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, and former Rep. Kweisi Mfume.

Mr. Cardin and Mr. Mfume, former president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, have announced they’re seeking the Democratic nomination, while Mr. Van Hollen is considering a bid.

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