George W. Owings III, a former state delegate and Calvert County Democrat, appears to be little more than a week away from announcing his run for governor. He said Monday that he'll "make it official" at a morning news conference Jan. 6 on the courthouse steps in Prince Frederick. The former majority whip, who served as secretary of veterans affairs under Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., has been a sharp critic of Gov. Martin O'Malley's fiscal policies. He disagreed with O'Malley's decision to raise the sales tax during a 2007 special session and took issue with the governor's personal lobbying to repeal the death penalty this year. Owings, 64, has been contemplating a primary challenge since at least May, when he told The Baltimore Sun that he sees "a lot of good, solid, working-class Democrats with serious concerns about the direction we are taking."