Ulman says much, but little about his plans

POLITICAL NOTEBOOK

Political Notebook

October 09, 2005|By LARRY CARSON

Ulman talks about much at his fundraiser, but little about his political plans for 2006

Howard County Councilman Ken Ulman had a lot to say at his well-attended backyard fundraiser last week featuring Martin O'Malley, Baltimore mayor and gubernatorial candidate. But the Columbia Democrat added nothing on one topic: whether he'll run for county executive next year.

He took a shot or two at council Republicans, though not by name. He referred at one point to 2003, when Democrats pushed through a major local income tax rate increase, while Republicans - including county executive candidate Christopher J. Merdon - voted "no" and proposed cutting spending instead.

"While some were coming up with budgets that slashed over 10 percent of the library's budget, we were making tough decisions to make investments in the library's budget," Ulman said.

The 31-year-old councilman is quietly doing political polling to measure his chances in a countywide race, while school board Chairman Courtney Watson, another Democrat and potential rival, also weighs her options.

With more than 200 people and a clutch of local elected Democrats gathered for his fundraiser behind his parents' expansive home in Dorsey Hall, Ulman boosted O'Malley's campaign for governor, with one of his big blue County Council campaign signs as a backdrop.

Ulman has endorsed O'Malley, unlike many Howard Democrats who are waiting before making a decision between the mayor and his chief Democratic rival, Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan.

Howard County Executive James N. Robey, also a Democrat, said he would not endorse anyone in the gubernatorial primary.

But O'Malley hinted at Robey's plans in his speech, after acknowledging the presence of Dels. Elizabeth Bobo and Shane E. Pendergrass.

"You know, I think we need a new state senator, but I know you all will do that," he said.

The crowd tittered at the apparent reference to Robey's possible candidacy for state Senate in District 13, a seat occupied by Republican Sandra B. Schrader. Robey said nothing but later acknowledged that he is looking at Schrader's Senate seat, among other possibilities. He might, for example, serve in a future state administration or join a private firm that does background checks, he said.

After being told about the comment, Schrader said she isn't assuming anything. "There's a lot of people who may run for state senator," she said. "I never thought I'd get a free ride."

Although Ulman lavishly praised the mayor as someone who has sparked a "renaissance" in Baltimore, several Democrats said they feel that the votes of Howard County's 80,326 registered Democrats are up for grabs in the primary between Duncan and O'Malley.

Candidates emerging

Contenders are emerging for the District 3 County Council seat that Chairman Guy Guzzone plans to leave for a run at the House of Delegates next year. Two women - one from each major party - appear likely to compete for a seat on the all-male council.

Republican Donna Thewes, 46, a community activist from North Laurel, formally declared her candidacy for the office last week before about 60 supporters - including four Ehrlich administration Cabinet secretaries and GOP elected officials - during an appearance at Savage Mills.

"I love this area," Thewes said of the North Laurel-Savage corner of Howard County. "I've lived here 17 years, I would never live anywhere else. This will always be my home."

She spoke about her "passion, respect and love" for the community and how excited she is to try turning her years of community service into a political campaign.

Thewes has been a PTA president at two schools, a substitute county teacher and a police-community liaison worker.

She has worked in several community groups to improve U.S. 1 and the southeastern county.

Democrats appear to be backing Jennifer Terrasa, 36, a lawyer from Kings Contrivance, though the Oakland Mills High School graduate hasn't declared herself a candidate.

"I think there's a good likelihood [of running]," she said. "I've got a bunch of people looking into this."

Terrasa, the mother of three children ages 2, 4 and 5, serves on the county Planning Board and the Kings Contrivance village board.

She teaches legal writing part time at the University of Baltimore law school and helped staff the Family Law hot line for several years at the Women's Law Center in Towson.

Mystery solved

Democratic Central Committee member Tony McGuffin solved a vexing political mystery before dawn Thursday, he reported.

All this summer, he said, someone has been ripping Democratic-themed stickers from the rear bumper of his Saturn sedan, parked on a church lot near his home on Main Street, Ellicott City.

Fed up, McGuffin put two particularly provocative messages on the car and then staked it out, crouching low in his wife's car on the other side of the lot.

About 6:30 a.m., he said, a tall, white-haired man walking a large, mixed-breed dog stopped and ripped off a "Friends Don't Let Friends Vote Republican" sticker.

McGuffin started his car, drove over and confronted the man while calling police on his cell phone. The man denied the deed and quickly walked away, leaving before police arrived.

"Maybe he thinks it's a game, but it's not," he said. "It's a stalking kind of feeling" to be victimized,

He has good reason to feel skittish.

A .45-caliber slug was fired through a window of McGuffin's house during the 2004 presidential campaign, a crime that has never been solved.

larry.carson@baltsun.com

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