Politician v. politician

August 07, 2006

Of all the dramas played out so far this Maryland election year, the most peculiar pits a Republican candidate for comptroller against a Democratic candidate for attorney general. In short, Steven N. Abrams claims Thomas E. Perez hasn't practiced law in Maryland long enough. Mr. Perez, Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr., and an Anne Arundel County Circuit Court judge say he has.

Mr. Abrams, a member of the Montgomery County school board who has long been at odds with Mr. Perez, a Montgomery County councilman, is appealing to the state's highest court. Even the plaintiff agrees this is an intellectual exercise that turns on whether Mr. Perez's years of federal service as a prosecutor and civil rights lawyer should be counted. Mr. Abrams also admits that the 44-year-old Mr. Perez, a University of Maryland law professor, is qualified for the post.

There's something oddly amusing about a cross-party, cross-political office dust-up over a technicality. Mr. Abrams insists that standing up for a 19th-century constitutional principle demonstrates the sort of grit voters want from the state's top tax collector. Mr. Perez and his supporters have a less charitable view. We tend to agree. The humor is growing stale, particularly with an election just five weeks away. It's time the candidates left the courtroom and stuck to the issues - starting with the meaningful ones.

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