Maryland Secretary of State Winfield M. Kelly Jr. has become the first candidate to openly -- although tentatively -- announce his intention to run for governor in 1994.
With an election committee filed with the state elections board in Annapolis, Kelly also may wind up coaxing other Democratic gubernatorial wannabes into the open.
Kelly, 55, a longtime Democratic office holder from Prince George's County, said he agreed to the recent formation of the "Kelly Planning Committee" to explore his gubernatorial chances after friends urged him to run for the office.
"I thought about it for a couple of months and decided to form a committee," he said yesterday in a telephone conversation from a Prince George's County golf course where he was chairing a hospital fund-raiser.
Kelly, a former Prince George's County executive, said his committee may poll voters to determine what kind of governor Marylanders want in 1994 when Gov. William Donald Schaefer steps down at the end of his second term.
Long-time Kelly friends Kenneth H. Michael and Andrew O. Mothershead are, respectively, chairman and treasurer of the Kelly Planning Committee.
Lt. Gov. Melvin A. Steinberg, perhaps the most ardent unofficial candidate for governor, said yesterday he may form a committee within a few weeks to oversee his campaign -- if he decides to run.
"I'm not in a position to make a formal announcement," Steinberg said. "It's too early and I have a job to do."
Steinberg said that for months friends have been urging him to start running for the governor's office. He has demurred, but did not attempt to block the "Marylanders for Steinberg" committee set up by supporter Del. Anthony M. DiPietro Jr., D-City.
Steinberg, 57, said he now may have to step up his unofficial campaign.
Prince George's County Executive Parris Glendening also has been amassing support for a gubernatorial run, but so far no committee supporting his effort has filed with the state board of elections.