Simms presses attack in his race against Gansler

Maryland Votes 2006

Primary Tuesday

Campaign Notebook

September 08, 2006

With a few days to go before Tuesday's primary, attorney general candidate Stuart O. Simms continued his attacks on Democratic rival Douglas F. Gansler with a statewide mailing yesterday that says Gansler is a publicity hound and his "gift of gab could have put murderers back on the street."

Gansler is the Montgomery County state's attorney. Simms, a former Baltimore state's attorney, has harped on Gansler's 2003 reprimand by the Maryland Court of Appeals for remarks Gansler made to the news media in pending criminal cases. District of Columbia authorities later issued a similar tongue-lashing.

Gansler responded by calling the mailing a "Swift-boat type of distortion, deception and lies."

He said lawyers involved in the criminal cases at the heart of the Court of Appeals rulings did not make claims of undue pretrial publicity and there was no danger of murderers being released.

Besides, he said, he was alleged to have violated rules of professional conduct, but the mailing says prosecutorial misconduct, which is different.

Gansler has maintained the sanction was politically motivated, generated after he criticized a Montgomery County judge for meting out a light sentence to a man who sexually assaulted an 11-year-old girl he met on the Internet.

He has said he disagrees with the Court of Appeals ruling, but has abided by it.

Gansler said he was bothered by Simms taking what had been a dignified race and "trying to bring it into the mud" with his negative campaigning of the last week.

Larry S. Gibson, Simms' campaign manager, said the mailing was "absolutely" negative.

"We are telling people why they should not vote for Doug Gansler. We have been telling people why they should vote for Stu Simms. We have been campaigning both positively and negatively," Gibson said.

Andrea F. Siegel

Ehrlich receives failing grade from environmental group

The Maryland League of Conservation Voters gave Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. a "D" grade on the environment yesterday, slamming the Republican for allowing sprawl and fighting clean air laws.

"The governor's failing grade comes at a time when the Chesapeake Bay is in decline [and] poorly planned development is on the rise," the advocacy group said in a news release. "Left to their own devices, this administration has often done more harm than good."

Henry Fawell, a spokesman for Ehrlich, said the league is dominated by Democrats and former members of Gov. Parris N. Glendening's administration.

"We're disappointed that the league's longtime partisan agenda prevents them from offering a fair and objective assessment of the governor's accomplishments," Fawell said.

He said these highlights include creating the Bay Restoration Act, or "flush tax," which helps to pay for improvements to sewage treatment plants.

Cindy Schwartz, the league's executive director, said her group is nonpartisan. It gave Glendening, a Democrat, better grades - a B and B - because he protected the environment better, she said.

The league criticized Ehrlich's administration for endorsing a 2,700-home subdivision near the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. It said the governor also lobbied with the power industry against an air pollution bill.

The Maryland environment department under Ehrlich failed to enforce thousands of air pollution violations at coal-fired power plants, tried to weaken water quality standards in the bay and for three years stopped monitoring for ozone air pollution in Baltimore, according to the report card.

And in 2004, the league said, the administration proposed selling 836 acres of forested state lands in Southern Maryland to a politically connected businessman.

"Only after public outcry have they backed off policies that would be bad for our air, land and water," the league said of the governor's administration.

Tom Pelton

Candidates for comptroller announce new endorsements

Two Democrats running for comptroller announced endorsements yesterday.

Montgomery County Councilman Thomas E. Perez, who was forced by a court ruling to abandon his bid for attorney general, endorsed Montgomery County Del. Peter Franchot for comptroller.

And former Prince George's County Executive Wayne K. Curry is supporting Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens in her comptroller bid.

Curry's words of praise will be relayed to voters in Prince George's through computerized phone calls.

Both are facing incumbent William Donald Schaefer in Tuesday's Democratic primary.

Stephanie Desmon

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