- The Washington Times - Monday, February 13, 2006

Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan yesterday questioned the maturity of his rival for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination during a press conference in Baltimore.

“We need an adult in this situation. We need an adult as governor,” Mr. Duncan said after criticizing Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley’s performance in reducing violent crime in inner-city, low-income neighborhoods.

Later in Mr. Duncan’s stamping ground in Rockville, Mr. O’Malley, 43, said the county executive’s attacks were the “desperate” actions of a candidate trailing in the polls and in fundraising.

“He’s so desperate not being able to get any traction out there,” Mr. O’Malley said. “He thinks he’s being clever and cute.”

The Democratic challengers — seeking to thwart the re-election bid of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican — traded barbs and picked up endorsements in each other’s back yards yesterday.

Mr. Duncan, 50, who was endorsed by Baltimore’s top prosecutor, State’s Attorney Patricia Jessamy, accused Mr. O’Malley of falsifying the rate at which he has cut violent crime.

His campaign released a video of Mr. O’Malley saying in June that Baltimore had achieved a “50 percent reduction in violent crime” during his six years as mayor.

Mr. O’Malley’s campaign, however, has promoted a 37 percent reduction — a statistic that has been reported with skepticism.

“There’s a lot of concern about the numbers being reported by the mayor’s office,” Mr. Duncan said yesterday morning. “We need to find out what the truth is.”

Yesterday afternoon, Mr. O’Malley defended his police department’s reporting of crime statistics — and received the endorsement of Rockville Mayor Larry Giammo. Mr. O’Malley said he could have reduced Baltimore’s crime rate even more if Mr. Ehrlich had given the city more money.

“What’s lacking right now is a reliable state partner in Annapolis,” Mr. O’Malley said, calling Mr. Ehrlich “a governor that drives more golf balls than progress when it comes to public safety.”

“This is the continuation of his whining. Is Martin O’Malley responsible for anything that happens in Baltimore?” said Greg Massoni, Mr. Ehrlich’s deputy press secretary.

There were 268 reported homicides in Baltimore last year, which is down from 278 in 2004, but still higher than the 175 Mr. O’Malley promised when he took office.

According to campaign finance reports, Mr. O’Malley last year raised $4.3 million and has $4.2 million on hand, while Mr. Duncan last year raised $1.3 million and has $1.4 million on hand.

Mr. Ehrlich last year raised $4.9 million and has $8.4 million on hand, according to campaign finance report.

Yesterday, Mr. Duncan announced a plan to put more than 1,000 extra police officers on Maryland streets if he is elected in November.

But Mr. O’Malley said Mr. Duncan has “very little experience” with real crime issues in Montgomery County.

Mr. Duncan acknowledged that Montgomery County is far wealthier than Baltimore, but said he has “worked very hard to create that tax base, while the mayor has been losing jobs.”

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