Campaign notebook

August 04, 2006

Ministerial Alliance makes endorsements

Former Baltimore health commissioner Peter Beilenson snagged a potentially important endorsement in his campaign for the 3rd District seat in the U.S. Congress yesterday as the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance issued its list of recommended candidates in the Sept. 12 primary.

Beilenson is part of a crowded field of candidates seeking the Democratic nomination to succeed U.S. Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin.

The alliance, a Baltimore-based coalition of mostly African-American clergy, spurned Cardin's campaign for the U.S. Senate and gave its nod to former U.S. Rep. and NAACP President Kweisi Mfume in the Democratic primary. It rejected Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele and endorsed Corrogan Vaughn in the GOP contest.

Other beneficiaries of the group's endorsements included Stuart O, Simms for attorney general and Peter Franchot for comptroller - a position now held by former Gov. William Donald Schaefer. The alliance also supported U.S. Reps. C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger in the 2nd District and the unopposed Elijah E. Cummings in the 7th.

The ministerial group was conspicuously silent on the governor's race, where Democratic Mayor Martin O'Malley is challenging Republican incumbent Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

The Rev. William C. Calhoun, president of the group's political endorsement committee, said the lack of a pre-primary endorsement sends "a message to the governor and the mayor" that they're going to have to listen to the organization.

Calhoun said he expects the alliance to make a gubernatorial endorsement before the general election.

"I don't think anybody better take it for granted," he said. "It's up for grabs."

Among those receiving support in contested state Senate races were Democratic Del. Salima S. Marriott in the crowded 40th District field and Scott Rifkin in his Democratic primary race against Del. Bobby A. Zirkin in Baltimore County's 11th District. The group also supports incumbent Democratic Sens. Delores G. Kelley (10th), Lisa A. Gladden (41st), Joan Carter Conway (43rd), Verna L. Jones (44th) and Nathaniel J. McFadden (45th).

Michael Dresser

Simms gets Hoyer nod for attorney general

U.S. Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, the second-ranking Democrat in the House, endorsed Stuart O. Simms yesterday for attorney general, giving the former Baltimore prosecutor a well-known and high-profile champion in the three-way primary.

Calling Simms a "person of real depth, of thoughtful judgment and wise counsel," Hoyer praised the Baltimore native's approach to complex issues. Simms held two Cabinet posts in the administration of Gov. Parris N. Glendening, first as secretary of juvenile services, then as public safety chief.

Simms, who was the running mate of Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan until Duncan withdrew from the gubernatorial race, is one of three Democrats seeking to replace retiring Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr.

"To have someone take this step - of his stature - is significant, and I certainly am gratified by it," Simms said in an interview.

Hoyer represents Southern Maryland, an area where none of the three Democratic candidates for attorney general is well-known by voters.

Simms and Hoyer were to appear together in Upper Marlboro to make the announcement.

The other two candidates seeking to be the Democratic nominee are Montgomery County State's Attorney Douglas F. Gansler and Montgomery County Councilman Thomas E. Perez. The winner of the September primary will face Frederick County State's Attorney Scott L. Rolle, the presumptive Republican nominee, in the November general election.

Andrea F. Siegel

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