Larry Young chooses radio over Senate bid

June 20, 2006|By JENNIFER SKALKA | JENNIFER SKALKA,SUN REPORTER

Former state Sen. Larry Young, a Baltimore Democrat who was expelled from the General Assembly on charges that he used his public position to enrich his private businesses, said yesterday he has chosen to continue his radio career rather than attempt a return to the legislature.

Young had hinted for months that he would be a candidate for office in Senate District 44, and had already collected $40,000 in campaign contributions. But he said yesterday he is abandoning the comeback bid so he can continue his morning talk show on WOLB-AM and join the ministries of the Rev. Al Sharpton.

"I was trying to persuade myself that I would prefer my first love, which was to get back into public service," said Young, 56, a member of the legislature for more than two decades before his 1998 expulsion. "But as I started looking at the situation and talking with folks, I discovered I could do just as much, if not more, sitting behind the mike at WOLB."

After Young became the first lawmaker in two centuries to be cast out of the legislature, he was indicted on charges that he extorted money from two minority-owned health care companies. Young was acquitted of all charges and vowed at the time that he would return to public office. But yesterday, he said he is giving up politics for good, calling the decision "long and painful."

"I had a choice between Radio One and politics," he said, referring to the station's corporate owner. "I'm at Radio One."

Young's devoted fans had started laying the groundwork for his return to Annapolis. They had held several fundraisers for his primary bid against incumbent Sen. Verna L. Jones.

Jones, 50, said she would welcome the opportunity to meet with Young and his supporters to talk about district business. "I wish him well, but my focus has been and still is to be of high service to the people of the 44th," she said.

His decision came as a surprise even to some close friends.

"All I can say is I'm disappointed," said A. Dwight Pettit, a Baltimore attorney and supporter. "I thought it was just about a foregone conclusion that he would be running."jennifer.skalka@baltsun.com

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