Rolle announces bid for attorney general

Ehrlich urges support for GOP prosecutor

Maryland Votes 2006

May 10, 2006|By JENNIFER SKALKA | JENNIFER SKALKA,SUN REPORTER

Frederick -- Flanked by the governor and lieutenant governor, Frederick County State's Attorney Scott L. Rolle announced his campaign for Maryland attorney general yesterday with a promise "to declare war on gangs" and abolish parole for violent criminals.

Rolle's campaign kickoff came a day after Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. declared that he would not seek a sixth term. Curran, a Democrat, has held the office for two decades.

Rolle said Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. recruited him to run and would not take no for an answer. But Rolle said he was "deeply honored and humbled" that the governor had tapped him as the GOP's favored candidate.

"This prosecutor from Frederick is looking to grab onto those coattails and hold on tight," Rolle said to the governor and Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele in front of a crowd of 75 gathered at American Legion Post 11.

Ehrlich and Steele were joined at the event by Maryland Republican Party Chairman John Kane, Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett and several members of the General Assembly who represent Western Maryland -- a show of party unity for the 44-year-old prosecutor and a signal that the GOP is eager to put one of its own in the office.

A Republican has not been elected to the position since 1919.

Rolle's showing in November will be a visible indication of whether Republicans in Maryland, still outnumbered by Democrats by a 2-to-1 margin, are resurgent under a GOP governor. Four years ago, the party offered only token opposition to Curran, who won re-election against a little-known defense attorney with 65 percent of the vote.

Ehrlich said yesterday that Rolle (which rhymes with dolly) is not a talented fundraiser -- a remark he said was intended as a compliment -- and urged those who attended the announcement to do their part to raise money for the candidate.

The governor even told people to remember to put his bumper stickers on their cars.

Referring to Curran, though not by name, Ehrlich said: "I've had some issues with my lawyer in the past, but today Scott steps out.

"If we do our job, we'll have an attorney general who will make us proud," he added.

Asked later about Ehrlich referring to the attorney general as "my lawyer," Rolle said he understands the job's responsibilities are broader.

The attorney general litigates consumer protection cases and prosecutes criminal matters as well as providing legal counsel to the judiciary, state agencies and the governor.

"It's obviously an independent office," he said. "But there are things that I think we can work on together."

Steele, a candidate for U.S. Senate, said the GOP is looking forward to fielding a slate that will bring victory in November -- or what he called a "wonderful electoral hangover."

"I've been pressing this brother for five years to do this," Steele said of Rolle. "I am so excited to be here to launch what is a new era in politics."

A native of Montgomery County, Rolle was elected Frederick County state's attorney in 1994 and subsequently re-elected twice. He served previously as assistant state's attorney and chief narcotics prosecutor for Frederick County. Rolle is a captain in the Army Reserve, according to a biography issued by his campaign.

Rolle ran for Congress in 2004 against Bartlett, calling the incumbent Republican unfriendly to Bush administration policies and offering himself as the candidate who would adhere more vigorously to conservative ideology. During the campaign, he chided Bartlett for opposing the death penalty and only reluctantly supporting the war in Iraq.

Rolle is a graduate of the University of Dayton and holds a law degree from Ohio Northern University. He is married and has three children.

Two Democrats from Montgomery County have said they intend to run for attorney general. State's Attorney Douglas F. Gansler will make his announcement next week. Montgomery County Councilman Thomas F. Perez is also running, though he has been dogged of late by questions about whether he has practiced law in Maryland for 10 years as the state constitution requires of candidates for attorney general.

Rolle said that he would work to strengthen sexual predator laws if elected. He said he would tackle the issue of gang violence, promising to put gang members behind bars. He also said that he would work to abolish parole for murderers, rapists and child molesters.

"We need to let the people who prey on our kids know that 10 years means 10 years," he said.

Joined by his wife, Mary, and two of their children, Rolle said he was grateful for the support of the state's top Republican officials, and he noted that Bartlett's presence there showed how unified Republicans will be in working to get their candidates elected in November.

Bartlett, his former opponent, agreed, saying that despite President Bush's plummeting poll numbers and lobbying scandals sullying some Republicans at the federal level, he expects the state GOP to do well.

"National Republicans may have some challenges, but I tell you things are going great in the state of Maryland," Bartlett said.

jennifer.skalka@baltsun.com

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