State GOP woos Curry for party switch, Senate bid

Prince George's Democrat says his move is doubtful

January 28, 2003|By David Nitkin | David Nitkin,SUN STAFF

Maryland Republican leaders say they are trying to entice former Prince George's County Executive Wayne K. Curry, a Democrat, to switch parties and run against U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski in 2004.

State GOP Chairman John Kane said last night that Curry was his first choice as a candidate, and that he believed the former county executive was considering such a move.

"The orbits are aligning," Kane said. "If this did happen, it would continue to demonstrate what Bob Ehrlich and Michael Steele have said, that this is a party for all Marylanders, and that they are reaching out to minorities. Ehrlich's been working on him. I've been working on him. He just so well represents what we speak of."

But Curry said last night that he hadn't given thought to the race and doubted he would switch political suits. "I'm going to tell [Kane] I would be more valuable to them as a Democrat," he said.

Speculation about Curry, 52, swirled after CNN's Robert Novak mentioned a possible switch during a broadcast yesterday. The two-term executive of the state's second-largest jurisdiction was prevented by term limits from seeking re-election. He had considered running for governor and there was talk last year of him forming a ticket with Mayor Martin O'Malley.

Curry is also supportive of Governor Ehrlich, and was a member of his transition team.

"I think that's great if he does [switch parties]," Steele said last night. "It would be a testimony to a lot of hard work of folks who want to bring into the party talented African-Americans."

Steele, the lieutenant governor, called Curry a "fiscal conservative and social moderate" who would fit within the GOP's ideological tent. "I've been trying to get the brother to join us for the past six years." he said.

Audrey Scott, a Prince George's Republican who is Ehrlich's secretary of planning and community development, said talk of a Curry switch dominated a Super Bowl party she attended Sunday.

Kane said he plans to tell Curry, a land-use attorney who has made considerably more money in the private sector than in politics, that the party would help raise the money he needs for a competitive contest.

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