O'Malley, backers offer hints, but no answers

New `campaign' Web site and office announced

May 31, 2002|By FROM STAFF REPORTS

With just four weeks until the filing deadline, and with nary a definitive mayoral comment, a group called Friends of Martin O'Malley announced yesterday a "campaign web site" and a "new campaign office."

Campaign for what, exactly? That was not clear.

A City Hall spokesman claimed he had no idea. O'Malley aides expressed surprise. And the mayor, who is strongly considering a run for governor, continued to tease.

What does the announcement mean? "I don't know," O'Malley said. "We got a bigger headquarters and a Web site. Everybody's got to have a Web site, right?"

Why the new office? "It's bigger space. I had a little call room. Now we have a little more space."

Any reason why you need more space? "I don't know. We just kind of outgrew the old space."

When does he intend to end the political speculation? "Sometime soon."

The mayor has until July 1, the filing deadline, to decide whether he will challenge Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend for the Democratic nomination for governor. He is halfway through his five-year mayoral term.

For months, O'Malley has flirted with entering the race. And though his supporters -- and his political foes -- have been pestering him for an answer, the mayor continues to play coy. Earlier this week, he said he was in conflict: "My head tells me to go. My heart tells me to stay."

Since being elected mayor, he has raised about $2 million, including $1 million in a fund-raiser last month.

The expanded O'Malley headquarters is on East Lexington Street, upstairs from the former office. Last night, the mayor's brother answered the phone in the suite, which the news release described as "twice as large as the former office and will accommodate more volunteers, phones and desk space."

What does the announcement mean? Peter O'Malley was asked. "Just what it says on the page," he answered. In the 1999 mayoral race, Peter O'Malley was his older brother's political adviser.

Colleen Martin-Lauer, a campaign consultant listed as the contact on the news release, laughed when pressed about the meaning of the announcement.

"We just thought the press would like us to keep them informed of our activities," she added.

The Web site, www.friendsof omalley.org, "contains information about Baltimore's progress under O'Malley's leadership," according to the release.

It begins, "Hi, I'm Martin O'Malley and this is my website."

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