Simms weighs another run

June 23, 2006|By SUMATHI REDDY | SUMATHI REDDY,SUN REPORTER

Former Baltimore State's Attorney Stuart O. Simms, who was Democrat Douglas M. Duncan's running mate, said yesterday that he is contemplating a run for attorney general.

Simms' supporters quickly expressed hope that his foray back into the political limelight as a candidate for lieutenant governor would keep him there. And some said they would press the seasoned lawyer to enter September's Democratic primary for attorney general, which lacks a Baltimore-area candidate.

The filing deadline is July 3.

"I haven't foreclosed any options," said Simms, 55, adding that he might consider other public offices. "I want to take a moment or two to assess all of the available options and make an appropriate decision, and I hope to do that very soon."

Simms said he was "flattered" by supporters who have expressed hope that he will run for attorney general.

"I've certainly been delighted at the reception I've received around the state while I've been campaigning," he said. "I've certainly picked up some of the concerns that Marylanders have, and I believe they've come to appreciate some of the maturity and experience that I could bring to state leadership."

Simms agreed to join Duncan's gubernatorial campaign a week before longtime Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. announced that he would not seek re-election.

Simms, an admirer of Curran, said yesterday that "as long as Joe was providing great service to the citizens of Maryland," running for attorney general "was less of an option" for him.

Sen. Delores G. Kelley, a Baltimore County Democrat, said she will urge Simms to enter the race for attorney general.

"His personal background, his experience, his maturity, his ability to collaborate and work with people across all these lines is really crucial, and people have a great deal of respect for him," Kelley said. "Maybe fate is going to show us there is always a silver lining."

Two candidates from Montgomery County -- State's Attorney Douglas F. Gansler and County Councilman Thomas E. Perez -- are running in the Democratic primary. Neither would comment yesterday on how a Simms candidacy might affect the race.

"I like Stuart Simms, I've known him for many years in his role as a state's attorney, and I have a good relationship with him," Gansler said. "I'm sure whatever path he decides to take at this point, he'll have success."

Frederick County State's Attorney Scott L. Rolle is the leading Republican candidate.

Though political observers and consultants said Simms would be an impressive candidate, some said that entering a race this late could be a challenge when it comes to raising campaign funds.

"There would be a tremendous fundraising challenge ahead of him unless he gets a transfer from Duncan's money or some other benefactor," said Arthur Murphy, a veteran political consultant from Baltimore who called Simms an old friend and a "marvelous human being."

Murphy said fundraising would be the only challenge Simms would face. Still, he said, he would be surprised if Simms entered the race. "Stu's a chess player. He's not a gambler," Murphy said.

Matthew Crenson, a political science professor at the Johns Hopkins University, said entering the race this late could be an advantage.

"He's nobody's target," Crenson said. "And people from Montgomery County have sliced up the Washington suburban vote."

As an African-American based in Baltimore, Simms would appeal to Baltimore-area residents and to African-American voters in Prince George's County, some political observers said.

"If he's a chess player, this is the move to make," Crenson said.

Others noted that Simms is not well known outside Baltimore.

"He did serve as the state's attorney in Baltimore, but that was a long time ago, and that was a local position," said Donald F. Norris, a public policy professor at University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Maryland Democrats found the possibility of a Simms run tantalizing.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said he has long wished that Simms would run for attorney general. "That could be one of the offshoots of this campaign," Miller said. "What this man has accomplished in terms of education. ... He's gotten good grades, gone to the best schools. He's a role model for youth. He's a good family person and a very thoughtful person."

Sen. Lisa A. Gladden, a Baltimore Democrat, said, "I think he'd be a great AG, I really do. He, to me, is the ideal candidate."

Simms, a Baltimore native, graduated from Gilman School and earned degrees at Dartmouth College and Harvard Law School.

He was appointed Baltimore state's attorney in 1987, then elected twice. He held two Cabinet positions under Gov. Parris N. Glendening.

Simms lives in Baltimore and is in private practice with a firm.

sumathi.reddy@baltsun.com

Sun reporters Andrew A. Green and Michael Dresser contributed to this article.

Who's in

Here are the candidates in the campaign for Maryland attorney general:

SCOTT L. ROLLE Republican Frederick County state's attorney

THOMAS E. PEREZ Democrat Montgomery County councilman

DOUGLAS F. GANSLER Democrat Montgomery County state's attorney

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