Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. announced yesterday the creation of an all-woman volunteer organization to bolster his re-election campaign.
Surrounded by his family, friends and elected officials, Mr. Curran introduced "Women United for Curran" at news conferences in Rockville and Baltimore.
The move clearly was aimed at showing that Mr. Curran -- who faces a potentially strong primary challenge from a woman, Democrat Eleanor M. Carey -- has long had strong support among women's groups.
"As attorney general, I've identified women's issues, children's issues and senior issues . . . and we'll be judged on what we've done," said Mr. Curran, who used the opportunity to tout his long record in the Maryland General Assembly and as the state's top lawyer.
In Baltimore, Mr. Curran delivered a short speech to a group of about 75 supporters who gathered on the steps of the War Memorial to hear him in the noontime heat. The group included state Del. Salima S. Marriott, City Council President Mary Pat Clarke and Councilwomen Agnes B. Welch, Rochelle "Rikki" Spector and Iris G. Reeves.
Lending their support in Rockville were state Sen. Idamae Garrott and Del. Sheila E. Hixson, both of Montgomery County.
The elected officials focused on Mr. Curran's advocacy and support of issues affecting women, particularly his early support of abortion rights.
They also pointed to his support for a family court system, longer civil protection orders in domestic violence cases and tougher enforcement of child support laws -- all recommendations of a 1991 attorney general task force on family law.
The campaign said more than 500 women have signed on as members of Women United for Curran, including civic leaders, 30 elected officials and everyday voters.
"Joe really has been very much in the forefront of women's issues -- domestic violence, the minority and women business enterprise program, reproductive rights," said Anne S. Perkins, a former member of the Maryland House of Delegates who is chairing Women United for Curran.
"This is a campaign, and women are well over 50 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary. And it's important for Joe's record to be up front early," Ms. Perkins said. "Joe shouldn't have his leadership and record taken away from him."
Her comment seemed a reference to tomorrow's expected announcement that Harriet's List, a women's political action committee, will endorse Ms. Carey.
The purpose of Harriet's List is to help elect Democratic female candidates who support abortion rights.
The Carey campaign reacted to Mr. Curran's announcement yesterday with a shrug.
"It's not really a big surprise to us that he has women supporters," said Robin M. Brand, Ms. Carey's campaign manager.
"He's been in office 36 years -- you would expect he would have women supporters.
"But he's been working on this for a month or two, and they only have 500 names on this list," Ms. Brand said.
"We want our campaign to focus on seeking solutions to such problems as how we handle the rapid increase in violent crime and juvenile delinquency -- rather than collecting signatures."
Patrick J. Smith, a Rockville attorney, also is running against Mr. Curran in the Sept. 13 Democratic primary.