Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr. made his intentions official yesterday, filing to run for re-election three days before the deadline.
Accompanied by his chief of staff and campaign director, Smith filled out a candidate's form and spoke his name into a tape recorder at the county Board of Elections in Catonsville.
"I've created a partnership with the people of Baltimore County, and I'm looking forward to continuing that partnership," Smith said outside the office's glass doors.
The 64-year-old Democrat is in the final year of his first term, and he has $1.5 million in the bank to spend on his re-election campaign.
He's the third person to officially enter the race and the only one to have held elected office.
The other two candidates are Democrat John F. Weber III, a former county parks director, and Republican Norman J. Cioka, a county maintenance worker.
Both have said they plan grass-roots campaigns rather than trying to beat Smith at fundraising.
Chris Cavey, chairman of the Baltimore County Republican Central Committee, said he spoke with two party members yesterday who are considering entering the race. He declined to identify them.
Cavey said he was "guardedly optimistic" that one of the candidates would enter the race. The deadline to file is Monday.
Smith said he hadn't filed before yesterday because he was busy running the county government.
In recent months, some political observers speculated that the former judge was considering a run for attorney general.
Yesterday, Smith said the thought "never entered my mind."
He said he plans to officially launch his re-election campaign with a rally in the next two weeks.
He said he will build his campaign around his efforts at redevelopment, education, public safety and what he called the county's "sound fiscal management."
"In my first campaign, I was running on my vision," Smith said. "The question is, `Have I produced that vision?' And I think the answer is `yes.' "