O'Malley gains support from Howard officials

Eight Democrats join in endorsement


A bevy of Howard County Democrats endorsed Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley for governor yesterday in Columbia, bolstering his primary election campaign in what he called a key political battleground.

Six current elected officials, plus former County Councilman C. Vernon Gray and the widow of Columbia founder James W. Rouse, Patty Rouse, gathered outside the county's main library to declare O'Malley their choice in the contest with Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan.

O'Malley said he hopes to build campaign strength early in places such as Howard, which has 80,000 registered Democrats, about 45 percent of county voters.

"Howard County plays a pivotal, almost kind of bellwether role in statewide races, especially in Democratic contests," O'Malley said. "If a candidate coming out of the Washington suburbs is going to make headway into the Baltimore metro area, that candidate typically looks to come in through Howard County."

O'Malley received endorsements from Dels. Shane E. Pendergrass, Frank S. Turner and Neil F. Quinter; County Council Chairman Guy Guzzone and Councilman Ken Ulman, and State's Attorney Tim McCrone.

Missing was Howard County Executive James N. Robey, also a Democrat, who has said he will not take sides in the primary.

In his remarks, Turner said the mayor "rolled up his sleeves and worked to improve things" when it came to Baltimore schools, crime and neighborhood revitalization.

Duncan's camp played down the significance of the event and endorsements.

"Mayor O'Malley's strategy is to do everything possible to avoid an election and a close examination of his record," said Jody Couser, Duncan's campaign press secretary. "He prefers a coronation to an election."


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