- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 18, 2005

Maryland Comptroller William Donald Schaefer has all but announced he will seek another term in office, indicating to supporters at a fundraiser last week that he doesn’t plan to retire.

“I can’t announce I’m running, but I think you get the idea,” Mr. Schaefer, 83, told the crowd of about 500 people Thursday night.

“People have asked me ‘Oh, don’t you think it’s time to retire?’ I say it’s time to retire when … ,” the comptroller said, stopping midsentence to close his eyes and cross his arms over his chest.

The fundraiser raised the comptroller’s campaign fund to about $500,000, campaign official Gene Raynor told the Baltimore Sun.

Among those in attendance were Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, who is expected to seek the Democratic nomination for governor along with Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley.

Mr. Schaefer, a former Baltimore mayor and governor, is an institution in Maryland Democratic politics, but he has alienated many Democrats with critical remarks about those who don’t speak English, AIDS patients and minority-business set-asides, as well as with his warm relationship with Mr. Ehrlich, a Republican.

Democrats, however, are mindful of his popularity.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., a Democrat, said Mr. Schaefer has “plenty of time to go back to being a Democrat” if he decides to run again.

If he runs and wins, Mr. Schaefer would be 89 at the end of the term.

Despite the close relationship between Mr. Schaefer and Mr. Ehrlich, Mr. Duncan said he counts Mr. Schaefer as a supporter in the race for governor.

“He’s said nice things about Ehrlich. I’ve said nice things about Republicans,” Mr. Duncan said. “He’s always said nice things about me. I expect him to continue to do that, to be very supportive of me.”

Mr. Schaefer doesn’t deny he gets along with Mr. Ehrlich.

“I really like him,” Mr. Schaefer said of the governor. “I will be a Democrat. I will be for the Democrats. That doesn’t mean I can’t like him.”

• Kilgore pulls ahead

Republican Jerry W. Kilgore took in about $3.2 million in July and August, pushing him ahead of his Democratic rival in the governor’s race, Timothy M. Kaine, by about $1 million, aides to the candidates said last week.

In reports due at the State Board of Elections on Thursday, Mr. Kilgore reported total campaign contributions of about $14 million with about $6.7 million on hand, spokesman Tim Murtaugh said.

Mr. Kaine took in about $2.1 million for the two months, boosting his total contributions to about $13 million, spokeswoman Delacey Skinner said. Mr. Kaine had about $5.7 million in the bank, the report will show.

Independent H. Russell Potts Jr. received about $500,000 from July 1 through Aug. 30 and will narrowly surpass $1 million for donations thus far, said Thomas D’Amore, Mr. Potts’ campaign manager. Mr. Potts had $300,000 on hand, he said.

“It’s out biggest monthly report so far,” Mr. D’Amore said.

Mr. Kaine enjoyed a substantial early lead in fundraising. Mr. Kilgore benefited from two major cash infusions: a July 21 fundraising dinner in McLean that featured President Bush and a $1.5 million contribution Aug. 30 from the Republican Governors Association.

• Anti-war candidate

Kevin Zeese, former spokesman for Ralph Nader’s presidential campaign, will run as an independent, anti-war candidate for the U.S. Senate from Maryland next year.

Mr. Zeese paid his filing fee last Monday at the State Board of Elections, joining a growing field of candidates so far mostly made up of Democrats.

“The major issue will be the Iraq war,” Mr. Zeese said.

He said a majority of Marylanders now think the war was a mistake and will have a candidate who represents their views.

He said he also will support economic policies that will favor average Americans instead of the wealthy and will work for protection of the environment.

Mr. Zeese said he will be actively seeking the support of three minor political parties — the Populist Party, which got Mr. Nader on the ballot in Maryland last year, the Libertarian Party and the Green Party.

“I think there is a growing throw-the-bums-out mentality,” he said. “I am running to win.”

The pending retirement of Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes has a attracted several candidates for the 2006 election, and others are considering getting into the race.

Democratic candidates include Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, former Rep. Kweisi Mfume, social activist A. Robert Kaufman and psychiatrist Dr. Lise Van Susteren, the sister of Fox News Channel TV personality Greta Van Susteren. Allan Lichtman, a history professor and Democratic activist who is a commentator for major television and cable networks, plans to announce his candidacy Wednesday, and Josh Rales, the owner of a real estate investment firm, is considering entering the race.

• Condo conundrum

The Hampton, Va., City Council has agreed to reconsider the master plan for Buckroe Beach, a small victory for residents trying to keep development at bay.

Over developers’ objections, the council last week voted to reconsider the plan, which in part called for condos on the beach. The change is to ensure that future private development at the site of nearby Fort Monroe will blend with the area’s revitalization efforts.

One group — called the Green Space Gals — has been lobbying against the condo plans. Mayor Ross Kearney has denied that council’s vote is related to the protests. He said Hampton might lack the money to try to spark development at both the beach and the Army base after it closes.

Mr. Kearney said the city will continue moving forward with some parts of the Buckroe plans, especially a commercial fishing pier to replace the one destroyed by Hurricane Isabel two years ago.

• Leaving the job

A leading city official in Frederick, Md., is stepping down to form a health care company.

The city’s chief of resident services, Vinny Hughes, will leave at the end of November. He started working for the city in May 2002.

City spokeswoman Nancy Poss said it is unlikely that Mayor Jennifer P. Dougherty will name a replacement after she lost the Democratic Party’s nomination for a second term in Tuesday’s primary.

• Cell connection

Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Timothy M. Kaine wants every Virginian with a cell phone or pager to be alerted to impending natural disasters and other state emergencies.

The system to alert residents with text messages was part of a disaster-preparedness plan that Mr. Kaine outlined last Monday at a meeting of the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association in Norfolk.

“This could really take us to the next level,” Mr. Kaine, the lieutenant governor, told reporters during a conference call after his speech.

Cost of the proposal would be minimal, he said, because the state already has in place the computer capacity and software needed.

Mr. Kaine told the sheriffs’ group he doesn’t think Virginia needs new laws on gun ownership, but “I don’t want to roll back the ones we have.”

During his speech, he called for stiffer penalties for juveniles who carry guns. Judges have no option but to release juveniles once convicted of the crime because it is a misdemeanor, he said.

• Gas-gouging law

Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. told a House of Delegates committee last week that he wants the legislature to pass a price-gouging law.

He said it would give his office more power to go after businesses that try to profit from emergency situations such as Hurricane Katrina.

While Mr. Curran, a Democrat, did not offer any evidence that high gasoline prices are caused by price gouging, he said a law would make someone who could be inclined to do so think twice.

Mr. Curran said he plans to review the existing price-gouging laws in 27 states and the District and prepare a bill to submit to the legislature when it convenes in January.

The attorney general was among the witnesses appearing before the House Economic Matters Committee, which held a hearing to gather information on gasoline supplies and prices in Maryland.

The Senate Finance Committee held a similar hearing.

• Pro-homosexual

Equality Virginia — the state’s largest homosexual and lesbian advocacy group — has created a nonpartisan political action committee to add monetary support to its grass-roots efforts.

David Lampo, the committee’s chairman, said it will focus on delegate races this year, directing money toward as many as 20 candidates identified as supporting homosexual-friendly legislation.

They also will select candidates to endorse at an Oct. 1 meeting, and hope to distribute about $10,000 to candidates in this election cycle.

Their effort comes less than two months before the November general election.

Virginia legislators this year overwhelmingly approved a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex “marriage.” They will have to approve it a second time before it can appear on the ballot as early as November 2006.

• Mfume on terror

Maryland U.S. Senate candidate Kweisi Mfume is calling the war on terror a mistake.

He told a gathering last week in Chevy Chase that the war in Iraq was never a war on terrorism, and he said the nation shouldn’t put troops in harm’s way when it isn’t certain it is doing the right thing.

Mr. Mfume’s address came with exactly one year remaining in the countdown to next September’s primary for the seat currently held by Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, the five-term Democrat who is retiring.

Mr. Mfume is a former congressman and former president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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