Ewing says he won't run against Duncan

November 29, 2001|By Jeff Barker | Jeff Barker,SUN STAFF

ROCKVILLE - Ending months of speculation, Montgomery County Council President Blair Ewing said yesterday that he won't challenge County Executive Douglas M. Duncan in next year's election.

Ewing, reciting a litany of criticisms of Duncan's administration, sounded like a man itching to run for the top elected position in the state's most populous county.

But he then said that political reality - in particular, Duncan's formidable campaign account - helped him decide to seek re-election to the council instead.

"It would be disingenuous to say I hadn't considered the fact that he had raised a million dollars," said Ewing, who, like Duncan, is a Democrat. Ewing said he has raised about $45,000.

He suggested that he intends to take on Duncan in another way, by recruiting council candidates who agree with Ewing's positions on growth and other issues.

He said Duncan's administration seemed to assume that further development of housing and shopping malls is needed to produce the revenues necessary to maintain county services.

"There is a rising tide of alarm ... in this metropolitan area over excessive, uncontrolled growth," said Ewing, 67. "We will win on this and the other issues in Montgomery County."

Duncan did not respond directly to Ewing's remarks.

Duncan, 46, is running for a third term. He has boasted of attracting biotechnology companies and other major employers to the county, one of the nation's wealthiest. He has built a reputation as a centrist Democrat willing to shrink the government.

Duncan has about $800,000 in his campaign account, much of it raised while he considered challenging Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend for the Democratic nomination for governor. He abandoned that idea last month, saying he needed to focus on the county's security challenges in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Had he run for governor, Duncan would have faced the same sort of hurdles that helped dissuade Ewing. Townsend is far better financed than Duncan and is better known, especially in the Baltimore area.

Ewing was elected to the council in 1998 after serving 22 years on the county school board. His decision not to run for county executive leaves Duncan without a major challenger.

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