Duncan talks the talk of governor candidate

September 10, 2005|By TAMELA BAKER


Doug Duncan has exactly one year to introduce himself to everybody in Maryland.

And by the time the Maryland primary rolls around next September, he's hoping Democrats around the state will choose him as their nominee for governor - though, like his probable rival for the nomination, he hasn't formally announced his candidacy.

But while he hasn't yet decided when he will make the announcement, the Montgomery County executive has plenty to say about why he should be Maryland's governor - and why he believes neither the incumbent nor the mayor of Baltimore should be.

Duncan served three terms on the Rockville (Md.) City Council before being elected Montgomery County executive in 1994. Now, Duncan is using his experience as the county's leading administrator to position himself as a problem solver for the state.


The election looms at a time when the state is becoming more polarized over partisan issues. This year's General Assembly was particularly contentious, as Republicans - mainly from outside the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area - found their voice in the Democratic-dominated legislature. The next governor, regardless of party, faces the dilemma of trying to bring both sides together.

"I'm the only candidate that can do that," he asserted Friday during a visit to Hagerstown. He charged that the other two, Gov. Robert Ehrlich, a Republican, and Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, are too busy playing "the blame game" to offer solutions for the state's problems.

"Ehrlich and O'Malley are very good at placing blame," Duncan said. "I don't see a lot of problem solving in Annapolis."

A case in point, he said, was last year's fight over reforming the state's medical malpractice laws. After months of wrangling with House Speaker Michael E. Busch and Senate President Thomas V. "Mike" Miller over what a reform bill should include, Ehrlich called a special session of the General Assembly two days after Christmas. What resulted was not the reform bill Ehrlich wanted, and he promptly vetoed it. When the legislators returned in January, they voted to override the veto.

Ehrlich missed an opportunity to compromise and provide leadership, Duncan said.

"What you do is solve the immediate crisis," Duncan said. "It was not leadership there. It was polarizing people."

Duncan on the issues

Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan, a possible candidate for governor of Maryland in 2006, talked about several issues on Friday.

· Development - "We need to bring back the Smart Growth office. Gov. (Robert) Ehrlich is not preserving land as we had been in the past."

· Prison staffing - "All agencies are being cut. Attention to detail and government services is not there. ... Is any of the extra money being used for that?"

· Slots - "You can save horse racing without slots ... we can supplement (racing) purses with lottery money."

· Economy - "The key to some of our transportation problems is to move the jobs where the people are, and make sure we have an educated work force to do the jobs we want to attract."

· Party politics - "One of the mistakes the Democrats have made is they have written off sections of the state. We have to look after every part of the state."

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