Candidate's comment raises some eyebrows

May 20, 2006|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY - During a radio interview on Thursday, a Democratic candidate for Maryland's lieutenant governor said Montgomery County is a complex municipality, not "some cow pasture in Western Maryland."

When WYPR radio host Marc Steiner asked Stuart O. Simms about returning to politics, Simms said Doug Duncan impressed him.

"This was somebody who I've watched for about 12 years really work hard in Montgomery County, which is by no means some cow pasture in Western Maryland, but a jurisdiction that has its own set of complexities ..."

Simms, a Baltimore resident, is running with Duncan, Montgomery County's executive. Duncan is facing Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley in the Democratic primary for governor.

Republican incumbent Robert Ehrlich is seeking re-election.

The Herald-Mail read Simms' quote to a sample of local Republicans and Democrats in public office to get their reactions.

Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, said the comment reflects a common bias from politicians near Baltimore and Washington, D.C., that their area is all that matters.


"Which I think is insulting," Shank said.

"It was neither intended to be nor was it an offensive remark," Simms said Friday night. "It was intended to be a compliment to the importance of Western Maryland. I know the importance firsthand because in my capacity as secretary of public safety, I visited Hagerstown and Cumberland constantly ... That importance for Western Maryland remains ingrained in everything I've done in the past and everything I will do in the future."

However, Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, called Simms' comment "very puzzling."

"I think Western Maryland is more than cow pastures ..." said Donoghue, who supports O'Malley. "I would think that if he travels up this way, (he'll) see the small business and technology and certainly the growth that we have."

"It's not surprising at all that someone like that continues to believe that Maryland ends at the Frederick-Washington (county) line," said Hagerstown Councilman Kristin B. Aleshire, a Democrat who also backs O'Malley.

Councilwoman Alesia D. Parson-McBean, a Democrat who supports Duncan, wasn't offended. She said Montgomery County's complexities are "working up" to Washington County.

Republican Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said Simms might be guilty of only bad phrasing.

"Sometimes, in politics, we speak before we think," he said. "I don't take any offense to it. Anyone who knows Western Maryland knows we have our own complexities as it is."

A tape of Steiner's interview with Simms may be heard at

Herald-Mail copy editor Tim Shea contributed to this story.

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