- The Washington Times - Monday, May 15, 2006

Montgomery County State’s Attorney Douglas F. Gansler yesterday officially announced that he will run for Maryland attorney general, a week after Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. said he would not seek re-election this fall.

“Joe, thanks for all you have done. You may be retiring, but don’t think for a minute that the next attorney general won’t be calling on you to help,” said Mr. Gansler, a Democrat who has headed the county’s criminal prosecutions for eight years.

Accompanied by his wife, Laura Leedy Gansler, and their two sons, Mr. Gansler said that if elected he would enlarge state prosecution to include gangsters and Internet predators threatening children in schools and homes.

He also pledged to work closely with law enforcement agencies in the state and pursue truth-in-sentencing to make certain that criminals serve full sentences.

“One of the first things I will announce in this campaign is an innovative plan to protect and improve the Chesapeake Bay by finally holding polluters responsible — in court,” Mr. Gansler said.

Mr. Gansler announced his candidacy to staff members, county officials and friends in the small park across the street from the County Courthouse in Rockville.

The announcement was made as the trial of convicted sniper John Allen Muhammad began its third week at the county courthouse yesterday. Muhammad is on trial in the killings of six county residents during a three-week shooting spree in October 2002.

Questions have been raised about why Mr. Gansler should bring Muhammad to trial because Muhammad already has been convicted for four killings in Virginia and is on death row.

“There should be no criticism … for the prosecution of somebody who has killed six people in the district,” said Mr. Gansler, emphasizing that he will not take Democratic or Republican positions, but will be “apolitical” and “talk only about my background and experience.”

“I will devote every ounce of energy to prosecute every criminal in the state of Maryland,” he said. “As attorney general, I will be there for you. I will be your lawyer.”

Mr. Gansler is the first Democrat to announce formally for the race, and he’s raised nearly $1.6 million for his campaign, according to state elections disclosures.

He joins a growing pool of candidates who have expressed interest in running for attorney general.

Frederick County State’s Attorney Scott L. Rolle, a Republican, announced a run for the office last week.

Montgomery County Council member Tom Perez, a Democrat, has said that he would kick off a campaign for the post within a week.

Sen. Brian E. Frosh, Montgomery County Democrat and chairman of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, also has said that he is interested in pursuing the statewide office.

Mr. Curran, a Democrat, announced May 8 that he would not seek a sixth term as the state’s top lawyer.

Mr. Gansler announced that former U.S. Sen. Joseph D. Tydings, an ex-U.S. attorney, would serve as his campaign chairman.

Among those who attended the announcement yesterday were Sheriff Raymond M. Kight; Deputy State’s Attorney John McCarthy, who is expected to seek election to the county state’s attorney’s post; and Molly Q. Ruhl, longtime clerk of Montgomery County Courts, who is retiring.

Mr. Gansler graduated cum laude from Yale University and received a law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. He was an assistant U.S. attorney from 1992 to 1998, during which he prosecuted more than 1,000 cases.

He met his wife in law school. Mrs. Gansler is a securities lawyer and author. The couple’s sons, Sam, 11, and Will, 9, have been coached in basketball, baseball and lacrosse by their father, who received All-Ivy and All-New England honors on Yale’s lacrosse team.

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

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