Stephen L. Miles considers run for attorney general

December 30, 1992|By Norris P. West | Norris P. West,Staff Writer

Attorney Stephen L. Miles, whose "let's talk about it" television commercials have made him a household name in Baltimore, said yesterday that he may run for Maryland attorney general in 1994.

Also yesterday, former Deputy Attorney General Eleanor M. Carey said she plans to make a second run for the job as the state's top lawyer.

Mr. Miles, 49, said he has been approached by Democratic leaders who are seeking potential candidates to run for the post amid broad speculation that Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. will run for governor in the election -- almost two years from now.

"The way it is shaping up, the Republicans will have a strong field in the primary election," Mr. Miles said. U.S. Attorney Richard D. Bennett and Howard County Del. Robert L. Flanagan are expected to run on the Republican side.

"And because of the way things are going on the Democratic side," Mr. Miles continued, "I think I would win the nomination hands down."

If Mr. Curran does not run again for attorney general, Mr. Miles would still have to defeat Ms. Carey, 50, in the Democratic primary. Ms. Carey ran in the primary in 1986 but lost to Mr. Curran.

Since that election, she has had a share of air time too -- as a legal reporter for WJZ-TV.

Ms. Carey said yesterday that she believes the Democrats who approached Mr. Miles are not in the state party's leadership. She said she was putting together a fund-raising committee, and she predicted that people who supported her last campaign would support her again.

A top official in the attorney general's office for 8 years, she downplayed any advantage Mr. Miles' commercials would give him.

"Name recognition alone isn't enough," she said, arguing that she has a strong record on consumer protection and environmental regulation.

"Voters also will look at a candidate's background, temperament and experience," she said.

Mr. Miles, a Democrat who lives in the Homeland section of Baltimore, is a former Baltimore assistant state's attorney, a designation he uses to promote himself in his television ads.

Every year, he ranks among the top 15 lawyers nationally for the amount of money spent to promote a law practice on television. He says he spends about $750,000 a year to produce and air his spots.

The ads have given him name recognition in the Baltimore area, although they do not run on Washington television stations that are viewed in some voter-rich suburbs.

"The commercials are the reason I've been approached," he said. "The exposure will get me out in public. Once it comes out live, people will see that I'm a person of substance."

Mr. Miles said he also is thinking about running for judge in Baltimore County Circuit Court, another position for which he says he has been approached.

He would have to move out of the city to seek that post.

But he expressed far more interest in the attorney general's job, a position that would enable him to remain in the limelight, where his television commercials have kept him for the past 12 years.

"I like the action, no question about it," he said. "The prospect of running the AG's office is very alluring to me."

Delegate Flanagan, a lawyer whose legislative district also includes part of Montgomery County, said he wasn't bothered by Mr. Miles' name recognition.

He questioned Mr. Miles' qualifications.

"I can only infer from his ads about what kind of practice it is," he said. "If it's only personal injury and [drunk driving cases], that's not much of a background to take to the office of attorney general."

Mr. Bennett, who is expected to be replaced as U.S. attorney next year by President-elect Bill Clinton, declined to comment on the attorney general's race.

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