- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 25, 2006

Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley last week picked up a grudging endorsement from a longtime critic.

Comptroller William Donald Schaefer said he would support the Democratic nominee in the race for governor.

The statement didn’t mention Mr. O’Malley by name and was long on praise for Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, Mr. O’Malley’s Democratic primary rival, who dropped out of the race Thursday.

Mr. Schaefer said that Mr. Duncan is “a man of great honesty and integrity” and that his departure from the race “is a loss to all of us.”

• Let’s debate

With the Democratic nomination in hand, James H. Webb Jr. has challenged U.S. Sen. George Allen to a series of debates to address the war in Iraq, national security policies, illegal aliens and the disparity between wealthy and poor Americans.

Mr. Webb’s campaign manager, Jessica Vanden Berg, wrote in a letter to Mr. Allen’s campaign manager, Dick Wadhams, that Virginia’s voters deserve a discussion about those issues.

Mr. Wadhams responded in a letter to Miss Vanden Berg that Mr. Webb’s list of topics was admirable but much too narrow.

He criticized Senate Democrats who support Mr. Webb as obstructing Republican goals, including welfare reform, a constitutional ban on homosexual “marriage,” and other issues.

Mr. Webb’s campaign proposed that the candidates appear in five debates, one each the next five months.

The candidates have one debate scheduled for the Virginia Bar Association’s summer meeting July 22 at the Homestead resort in Bath County.

• D.C. endorsements

Two D.C. Council members seeking the Democratic nomination for mayor have won some union support.

Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp was endorsed by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents about 8,000 city government workers.

Council member Adrian M. Fenty of Ward 4 received the endorsement of the Service Employees International Union, which represents more than 5,000 janitors and building-service workers.

• Still running

After more than a half-century as an elected official in Maryland, William Donald Schaefer still isn’t thinking about retirement.

Now 84, the state comptroller filed Wednesday for a third term as the state’s chief tax collector. Before that, he served two terms as governor. And before that, he served four terms as mayor of Baltimore.

Mr. Schaefer has two opponents in the Democratic primary — state Delegate Peter Franchot of Montgomery County and Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens.

Lazlo Boyd, a spokesman for Mr. Schaefer, said he will run on his record and is confident he will win.

“He wouldn’t enter the race if he didn’t,” Mr. Boyd said.

• Evans support

Linda W. Cropp’s campaign for mayor got the backing of D.C. Council member Jack Evans last week.

The Ward 2 Democrat called Mrs. Cropp a “strong leader” who used her position as council chairwoman to bring the other members together.

Mr. Evans said Mrs. Cropp has been a “driving force” to revitalize the District and warned that this is no time for “untested leadership.”

By backing Mrs. Cropp, Mr. Evans picked her over two colleagues on the council — Adrian M. Fenty and Vincent B. Orange Sr. — who are among the five Democrats running in the primary to succeed Mayor Anthony A. Williams, who is not seeking a third term.

• Looking ahead

Stuart O. Simms, a Baltimore lawyer and former running mate of Douglas M. Duncan, says he is weighing a run for Maryland attorney general.

Mr. Simms, a former Baltimore state’s attorney and secretary of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, says he will decide by next Monday’s filing deadline whether to run.

Mr. Simms says he met with an exploratory committee and “is giving serious consideration for a run.” He had planned to discuss the issue with his family over the weekend.

Mr. Duncan in May picked Mr. Simms as his running mate in his campaign for the Democratic nomination for governor.

But Mr. Duncan ended his candidacy Thursday, saying he had been diagnosed with clinical depression.

• Bowing out

Scratch one name off the list of possible successors for Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr., who is retiring.

Montgomery County state Sen. Brian E. Frosh said last week that he will seek re-election to his Senate seat.

His decision leaves two Democrats to vie for the Democratic nomination — Montgomery County Council member Thomas Perez and Montgomery County State’s Attorney Douglas F. Gansler.

Frederick County State’s Attorney Scott L. Rolle is running as a Republican.

• Not running

Former Maryland state Sen. Larry Young, who was expelled from his seat representing Baltimore in 1998 on charges of ethics violations, won’t be making a comeback attempt after all.

Mr. Young, a Democrat, had said last month that he was considering a campaign for his old seat in District 44, but he said last week that he wants to continue as a morning talk-show host on WOLB-AM.

A year after Mr. Young was expelled from the General Assembly, he was acquitted of bribery and tax evasion charges in Anne Arundel Circuit Court.

• Seeking money

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine last week became the first major Virginia Democratic leader to issue a fundraising appeal for the party’s new U.S. Senate nominee, James H. Webb Jr.

Mr. Kaine’s political action committee, Moving Virginia Forward, made the request in an e-mail Wednesday to Democratic activists.

The memo, over Mr. Kaine’s signature, urges supporters to stake Mr. Webb with enough cash by June 30 to rev up his general election campaign against Sen. George Allen, a Republican seeking a second term as he assesses his chances for a 2008 presidential race.

“George Allen has already raised $11 million. We must help Jim close the gap as much as possible before the Federal Election Committee fundraising deadline. I need you to support Jim, as you supported me last year,” Mr. Kaine wrote.

FEC reports filed in late May showed Mr. Allen with $7.5 million on hand before he began televising soft, biographical ads in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads.

Mr. Webb, then in the home stretch of a primary race against former lobbyist Harris Miller, had about $222,000 on hand, according to his FEC report.

A former Republican who served as President Reagan’s Navy secretary, Mr. Webb won the primary after nine Democratic U.S. senators endorsed him, including 2004 presidential nominee John Kerry, and a rare pre-primary endorsement by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Mr. Webb’s margin of victory came from strong support in Fairfax, Arlington and Alexandria, the Washington suburbs where Capitol Hill politics can influence local voting.

• Undeveloped

Crisfield, Md., residents angry over a waterfront development deal have voted out of office their mayor and two City Council members in favor of anti-development challengers.

The Wednesday vote puts into question a deal between the city and a development group called Crisfield Associates to redevelop the town’s waterfront.

Anger over the deal was so great that 16-year mayor Richard Scott was ousted almost 4-to-1 by Percy P. Jay Purnell.

Mr. Purnell and the other challengers promised voters that they would stop the no-bid, six-year contract given to Crisfield Associates. Another candidate who opposed the development was elected to an open council seat.

“This is democracy working in its simplest form,” Mr. Purnell told the Salisbury Daily Times.

In the weeks before the election, the Somerset County town that calls itself the “Seafood Capital of the World” was dotted with anti-development signs urging voters to make a “clean sweep” of officials who approved the bid.

The deal that sparked such intense opposition called for Crisfield Associates to pay about $600,000 for a city revitalization plan. In exchange, the company would get to share profits from marketing city-owned land to third parties.

Further angering voters was that one of the heads of Crisfield Associates, Charles McClenahan, is a former Republican state delegate. Some suspected his political ties helped secure the deal.

“What the citizens told us clearly is, ‘Listen to us,’” said Kim Lawson, one of the new members elected to council.

About half of the town’s 1,662 registered voters cast ballots Wednesday.

“The turnout is high because of what’s going on in the city — the condos, the Crisfield Associates,” voter Cokie McCready told the newspaper.

Some residents said they were afraid that new resort-style developments would further erode the flavor of the working waterfront.

“All this growth so far hasn’t benefited most of the people,” said Wes Bratcher, a construction worker. “All we’ve got is a bunch of high-priced condos.”

The other newly elected council members were Raymond Anderson and Barry Dize.

• In the race

With the support of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., Gary Applebaum on Thursday announced his candidacy for Congress representing Maryland’s 3rd District.

Although several Republicans are running for the seat being vacated by Democrat Benjamin L. Cardin, Mr. Applebaum has been the most aggressive in raising funds. His campaign says he reported receiving $135,000 for the first quarter of 2006.

Mr. Ehrlich said Mr. Applebaum, a physician, has all the qualities it takes to be a great congressman.

Democrats running for the seat include state Sen. Paula C. Hollinger, former Baltimore city Health Commissioner Peter Beilenson and John Sarbanes, the son of retiring U.S. Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes.

The district includes parts of Baltimore city and Baltimore, Howard and Anne Arundel counties.

Mr. Applebaum said he would fight for improved health care and education reform if elected.

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

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