Sunday, March 12, 2006

Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, a Democratic candidate for Maryland governor, testified in Annapolis last week in support of a state ban on military-style weapons.

“I lived through what one of these weapons can do during the sniper shootings,” Mr. Duncan said, referring to the shooting spree in October 2002 that killed 10 persons and terrorized the Washington area for three weeks. “We don’t need these guns on the streets.”

The bill by Delegate Neil Quinter, Howard County Democrat, would replace the federal assault-weapon ban that expired in September 2004. It would outlaw the sale or possession of 19 specific military-style weapons and all firearms with military characteristics, such as semiautomatic rifles with pistol grips or shotguns with retractable stocks.

Similar legislation has died in the last three General Assembly sessions, and lawmakers are skeptical that Maryland’s Assault Weapon Ban of 2006 will get out of the House Judiciary Committee.

Mr. Duncan told reporters that he did not support further expansion of the state’s gun-control laws beyond the proposed ban.

Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley, another Democratic gubernatorial hopeful, also supports the bill, but does not support further gun-control measures.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican seeking re-election, has not taken a position on Mr. Quinter’s bill.

Jumping right in

Allan J. Lichtman wanted to make a big splash in his first television ad leading up to the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate.

So the Montgomery County resident put on a suit and jumped into the C&O Canal.

“Let’s make a big splash and together change Washington,” he says in the advertisement.

Mr. Lichtman, 58, is an American University professor and political historian. He is among those running to replace the retiring Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, a Democrat.

One for the Gipper?

Former Reagan administration Navy Secretary James H. Webb, now a Democrat seeking elected office for the first time, says he hopes to challenge not only Virginia Sen. George Allen but an “extreme” Republican Party that has strayed far from Ronald Reagan’s ideal.

Mr. Webb and fellow Democrat Harris Miller are competing in their party’s June 13 primary to determine who will oppose Mr. Allen’s bid for a second term.

“The Republican Party of George W. Bush is not the Republican Party of Ronald Reagan,” Mr. Webb said last week in the first press conference of his campaign.

“I think it has moved toward the extreme on social issues. I think it has made a lot of mileage out of that in terms of attempting to keep a voter base,” said Mr. Webb, who endorsed President Bush and Mr. Allen in 2000.

Mr. Bush’s spending has put the nation in debt and betrayed conservative economics principles, Mr. Webb said, and foreign policy under Mr. Bush is something Mr. Reagan would have forsaken.

“The foreign policy of this administration has been taken over by people who would do something we’ve never done in our history, and that is to attempt to export our ideology at the point of a gun,” said Mr. Webb, a decorated Vietnam veteran.

“I don’t think Ronald Reagan ever would have done that, and Bush’s own father wouldn’t have done it,” he said.

Mr. Webb, 60, a Republican turned Democrat, will campaign on national defense as a critic of indefinite U.S. occupation of Iraq and on the erosion of the American middle class.


Four employees of the town of Appalachia, Va., who were among 14 persons indicted earlier this month on charges of election fraud and corruption, have been suspended from their jobs without pay.

The Town Council voted last week to suspend two police officers, the parks and recreation director and the bookkeeper.

About 60 people turned out for a special session called by Mayor Ben Cooper, who faces more than 200 charges. Mr. Cooper had announced plans to resign, but instead only surrendered his duties as town manager.

Full of praise

D.C. Council member Vincent B. Orange Sr. says Mayor Anthony A. Williams will go down in history as the city’s best mayor to date.

Mr. Orange said Mr. Williams came into office nearly eight years ago when city government had hit rock bottom. He noted that under the outgoing mayor’s leadership, the District returned its city operations to the Wilson Building, improved services for residents and brought Major League Baseball back to the nation’s capital.

Mr. Orange, of course, wants the job. He said his glowing assessment will stand even if the mayor decides to support another candidate.

mCookie monster

D.C. Council member Jack Evans is conducting non-city business from his John A. Wilson building office.

Mr. Evans, Ward 2 Democrat and the father of 9-year-old triplet girls, is peddling Girl Scout cookies from his reception area to anyone who is tempted.

Early last week, Mr. Evans offered boxes from his stock to reporters who had been staking out his office waiting for information on the council’s baseball lease agreement.

Year in review

D.C. Council member Kwame R. Brown, at-large independent, is personally handing out copies of his yearly report.

“2005: A Foundation for Accountability,” is a 19-page, 9-by-11-inch, glossy, full-color booklet detailing all the good things Mr. Brown has done for the District since he took office in early 2005.

It includes no mention of Mr. Brown’s campaign against and recent votes for baseball legislation approved by the council last week.

LaToya Foye, Mr. Brown’s communications director, said the council member had 5,000 copies of the booklet printed at $1 a piece. The money for the printing, she said, came out of the office budget.

Mr. Brown is not running for office or for re-election this year.

Party time

Hours after being sentenced for failing to file his income taxes, Marion Barry was on a plane headed for New Orleans.

Sources told the Associated Press on Friday that Mr. Barry was going on previously scheduled business.

His attorneys obtained at least two copies of a travel-authorization form from federal probation officials before leaving U.S. District Court on Thursday, when Mr. Barry received three years of probation.

Mr. Barry — a Ward 8 Democrat on the D.C. Council who served four terms as mayor — was seen celebrating at a New Orleans nightspot Thursday night, where friends were marking his birthday. He turned 70 last Monday.


Maryland’s longest-serving state delegate is saying goodbye to politics.

Delegate Pauline H . Menes, Prince George’s Democrat, announced Friday that she won’t run for an 11th term this year. Mrs. Menes, 81, has served 40 years in the House.

nS.A. Miller and Amy Doolittle contributed to this column, which based in part on wire service reports.

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