- The Washington Times - Monday, February 20, 2006

The top Democratic candidates for Maryland governor are battling for support among state and local officials in Prince George’s County.

Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley yesterday won endorsements from five delegates, a mayor and two other local officials in the county.

Democratic Prince George’s Delegates James W. Hubbard and Joanne C. Benson, Doyle L. Niemann, Veronica Turner and Rosetta Parker, as well as Edmonston Mayor Adam Ortiz, all endorsed Mr. O’Malley, who held a press conference at the Bladensburg Waterfront Park yesterday.

“We really are focused on the general election and on bringing people together all over the state to beat [Gov. Robert L.] Ehrlich [Jr.],” Mr. O’Malley said.

On Saturday, his main challenger for the Sept. 12 Democratic primary — Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan — announced that he has backing from six delegates, a County Council member and 12 other local officials from Prince George’s County.

Prince George’s County has more registered Democrats — 319,027 — than any other jurisdiction in the state, according to the Maryland State Board of Elections.

The county is also the wealthiest majority-black jurisdiction in the country. About 63 percent of the county’s residents are black, and the county has a median income of $55,256, according to U.S. Census figures.

Yesterday, Mr. O’Malley and his running mate — Delegate Anthony G. Brown, a Prince George’s Democrat of Jamaican and Swiss ancestry — took turns criticizing Mr. Ehrlich, a Republican.

“Governor Ehrlich promised a new brand of leadership,” Mr. Brown said. “He has failed. … His style has been divisive and downright mean-spirited.”

Mr. O’Malley, whose crime statistics for Baltimore have come under scrutiny and criticism, said he would not “say anything unkind or ill about another competitor in the primary.”

Last week, Mr. Duncan accused Mr. O’Malley of cooking the books to make his record on crime look better, and questioned his maturity.

“We need an adult as governor,” Mr. Duncan said, while announcing his plan to put 1,000 more police officers on the streets of Maryland.

Mr. Duncan’s campaign spokeswoman, however, said Mr. O’Malley’s campaign has been the negative one.

“Once again, Mayor O’Malley’s words don’t match his actions. For several months now, his negative nonissue-based campaign has been attacking Doug Duncan, who is running on his record and the issues he cares deeply about — education and fighting crime,” said Jody Couser, Mr. Duncan’s spokeswoman, via e-mail.

She pointed out Mr. O’Malley’s repeated use of the word “desperate” to describe Mr. Duncan.

Mr. Duncan has received the backing of two prominent Democratic Maryland congressman, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, and Rep. Albert R. Wynn, one of the state’s top black leaders.

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