O'Malley may put Brown on ticket

Delegate reportedly sought for Md. contest

December 03, 2005|By JENNIFER SKALKA | JENNIFER SKALKA,SUN REPORTER

Looking to solidify his bid for governor, Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley is in negotiations with Del. Anthony G. Brown, an African-American lawyer who served in Iraq, about becoming his running mate, a source close to the Prince George's County Democrat confirmed yesterday.

If selected, Brown, 44, would bring geographic balance to the ticket and help the mayor tap into the African-American community in vote-rich Prince George's.

"It's an honor to have my name considered among a list of others being considered for such an important position, just as I am proud to have served my constituents and was asked to serve in a leadership position in the House of Delegates," Brown, the majority whip, said yesterday.

A spokesman for the mayor's campaign declined to confirm or deny that the mayor has made Brown an offer.

"We are in the middle of a serious process of selecting a running mate," said Jonathan Epstein, O'Malley's campaign manager. "We're working to protect the integrity and confidentiality of the process."

Brown has also been contacted by Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, the other Democrat in the gubernatorial race. The two met for lunch at the Greenbelt Marriott in August after Brown returned from Iraq.

More recently, however, Brown joined O'Malley at a Veterans Day event for families of fallen soldiers. Together, they greeted attendees - O'Malley in a dark suit and long coat, Brown in his military uniform - shaking hands and offering hugs and kisses.

James G. Gimpel, a professor of government at the University of Maryland, said that while the person at the top of the ticket counts most, primary voters are likely to consider the candidate for lieutenant governor when they cast their ballots.

Gimpel called Brown a solid choice. "I think there are two things: a racial dimension, a connection that Martin O'Malley may need to African-American voters; and then there's also the region, the connection that Martin O'Malley needs to people in the Washington metropolitan area," Gimpel said. "I think Brown helps on both scores."

Prince George's County Executive Jack B. Johnson said Brown would generate excitement in the county, and he promised to work hard for him should he choose to run with O'Malley.

"I think that he'll be a great leader, a great asset to the state," said Johnson, who has known Brown since he helped with the executive's campaign for state's attorney in the early 1990s.

Viewed as rising star

Brown is viewed by many political observers as a rising star in the party. A lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve, Brown was awarded a Bronze Star for meritorious service in Iraq. When he returned in June after a nine-month stint in the Middle East, where he served as a senior consultant to the Iraqi transitional government's Ministry of Displacement and Migration, his colleagues toasted him at a "Welcome Back from Iraq" block party.

Since then, Brown has made no secret of his interest in higher office. He has had his eye on a number of jobs, including the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, and the comptroller's post, which is held by William Donald Schaefer. But the attorney general position has most intrigued him. Brown recently established an exploratory committee for attorney general.

The attorney general's race is complicated, however, by the fact that the longtime incumbent, J. Joseph Curran Jr. - who is O'Malley's father-in-law - has not expressed a desire to quit. Meanwhile, there are others, including Douglas F. Gansler, the well-financed Montgomery County state's attorney, and Montgomery County Council President Thomas E. Perez, who are interested in running.

Isiah Leggett, former chairman of the state Democratic Party, said Brown is "in pretty good demand" for either lieutenant governor or attorney general.

Leggett said O'Malley and Duncan have made it clear that they will seek to offer Democratic primary voters tickets with African-American representation, a strategy that Democrat Kathleen Kennedy Townsend failed to employ in her 2002 defeat to Ehrlich. Townsend angered many black leaders when she selected a white Republican.

"We never did fulfill that, and the Republicans did," with Michael S. Steele as Ehrlich's running mate, said Leggett, who has endorsed Duncan. "We paid a very serious price for that."

Duncan's finalists

Duncan campaign manager Scott Arceneaux said the executive will announce his running mate pick before the start of the General Assembly session next month. He said campaign officials are considering three finalists: state Sen. Gwendolyn T. Britt, a Prince George's Democrat; Freeman A. Hrabowski III, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; and Baltimore City Councilman Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr.

Mitchell said he did not know he was being considered by Duncan until being contacted by a reporter. "I haven't had any discussions with the Duncan campaign. I don't know what to say," Mitchell said last night.

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