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Washington County's Democrats seek to ride national sentiment

May 11, 2007|by TAMELA BAKER

HAGERSTOWN - Resurgence was the theme as Washington County Democrats gathered Thursday evening for their annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, and while they're outnumbered here, they invoked both national and state victories in last year's election to rally the troops for next year.

Candidates who lost closely fought races in November encouraged local Democrats to close the gap next year. Andrew Duck, who lost his bid to unseat U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., covered a table in the corridor of the Four Points Sheraton with campaign material for next time. Brian Grim, who ran against state Del. LeRoy Myers, R-Washington, had buttons and cards there as well, hinting at his intention to run again.

Noting he'd done better in the last election than anyone imagined he would - Grim claimed 43 percent of the vote - he told the crowd that "a strong Democratic campaign can succeed in Western Maryland."

And with the U.S. Senate and House as well as Maryland's governorship back in Democratic hands, Grim said the party is "on the brink" of making more strides in next year's election.

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Keynote speaker Douglas Gansler, Maryland's new attorney general, suggested there's a "momentum" for Western Maryland Democrats, and told the group that in next year's presidential race, "it's important that we elect a Democrat We've spent 200 years making America what it is and building our image and we have a president who has really undermined that."

Gansler predicted that a Democratic president would "show the world we haven't lost our marbles."

The attorney general, perhaps best known before the election for prosecuting the Washington-area sniper cases in Maryland, said he was focusing on public safety and the environment in his new office. To that end, he said, he's creating a central repository for information on gangs and related violence, and working with attorneys general from other states to implement further protections for minors using the Internet.

To protect the environment, he said his office would "identify the worst of the polluters and go after them."

But he closed his remarks by returning to party politics. He said he'd been told during his campaign not to worry about GOP strongholds in Western Maryland and on the shore, and "just focus on the middle." But he insisted those areas appealed to him as a "centrist Democrat, and it is 'one Maryland.' We're not gonna win every county every time, or it wouldn't be fun. But we can get the Andrew Ducks of the world elected."

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