O'Malley Reaches Out to Assembly and Washington Suburbs
By John Wagner
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 9, 2006; A48
Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley pledged yesterday to mend the rift
between the General Assembly and the governor's office and to represent
the entire state, including the Washington suburbs instrumental to his
But even as O'Malley's victory in the governor's race brings Annapolis
back to one-party rule, fellow Democrats say he could meet resistance
unless he broadens his administration beyond his loyalists and fleshes
out his policy planks.
"We have a lot of important work to do in bringing people together in
the spirit in which it is required for these next four challenging
years, " O'Malley said at an afternoon news conference.
Three hours earlier, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. had called to concede
in Tuesday's election and offer transition help.
O'Malley will arrive in Annapolis pledging to be a consensus-builder
after four fractious years of divided government under Ehrlich, the
state's first Republican governor in a generation. O'Malley will have
to contend with intraparty squabbles over such issues as the
legalization of slot-machine gambling and a bid to raise the tobacco
tax once the Democrats' Election Day euphoria starts to fade.
During his tenure at city hall, O'Malley made his share of enemies,
including several of Baltimore's old guard. State Comptroller William
Donald Schaefer (D), the last Baltimore mayor elected governor, was
among those who thought O'Malley did not show them proper deference.
But by most accounts, O'Malley enjoyed a productive working
relationship with members of the City Council, from whose ranks he rose
to mayor. In that respect, O'Malley could prove a good fit in the
governor's role, said council member Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr. (D).
"Obviously, there's been a lot of acrimony in Annapolis," Mitchell
said. "Voters have said they're tired of pointing fingers and want
people to start solving problems again."
O'Malley will be a newcomer in a town inhabited by a pair of
well-established personalities who preside over the legislature's two
chambers. It remains to be seen how they will get along.
"I think there will be a different mentality here," House Speaker
Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) said yesterday. "I don't think the
Senate or the House will be a rubber stamp for anyone. We're looking
for an administration that we can reach a consensus with."
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert), who has
presided over his chamber for two decades, said recently that he, too,
expects more productive relations with O'Malley than with Ehrlich but
said there is certain to be some "friction" born of personality.
Busch has demonstrated in his shorter tenure that he can be unyielding
on issues of principle, most notably efforts in recent years to
O'Malley has supported slots only at racetracks. But the expansion of
legalized gambling was a shared, but unfulfilled, priority for Miller
It was a subject O'Malley was not eager to talk about yesterday. At his
news conference, he fielded questions for several minutes after an aide
said "last question," calling it quits only after he got one on slots.
"Oh my goodness," the mayor said, "we should have ended." Smiling, he
left the room without answering.
O'Malley was joined by his wife, his oldest son, 8-year-old William,
and his running mate, Del. Anthony G. Brown (D-Prince George's).
O'Malley's selection a year ago of Brown, who served as majority whip
in the House, was seen as a way to reach out to the legislature and the
Miller said O'Malley would be well-served by showing the same reach in
his Cabinet and staff appointments. O'Malley's seven years as mayor and
his campaign were guided by several long-term loyalists, derided in
political circles as the "Irish Mafia," and several of his top aides
are expected to join him.
During his news conference, O'Malley pledged to appoint an
administration that reflects the state's diversity, including its
geographic diversity, as part of an effort "to recruit the most
professional and committed people we can."
"The bottom line is that Montgomery and Prince George's counties were
instrumental in his election victory, and I think he's going to take
that into an account," said House Majority Leader Kumar P. Barve
What an O'Malley governorship will mean for the Washington region
beyond that remains somewhat unclear.
Baltimore issues dominated the campaign as Ehrlich and O'Malley's
Democratic primary challenger, Montgomery County Executive Douglas M.
Duncan, relentlessly attacked the city's crime and low-performing
schools to try to erode the mayor's statewide support.
O'Malley issued a raft of policy proposals, few, if any, of which spoke
directly to needs in a particular region.
On one of the Washington area's most pressing issues, transportation,
O'Malley reiterated support yesterday for constructing the intercounty
connector, moving ahead with Metro's proposed Purple Line and finding a
dedicated funding source for the Metro system.
Beyond that, specific transportation proposals are not likely to
surface for several months. O'Malley has promised to convene a panel of
experts and legislators to reevaluate the state's transportation
priorities for the coming decade.
He said he will focus in his first legislative session on budget
priorities. Among them: increasing money for school construction and
stem-cell research, holding the line on college tuition and creating a
statewide affordable housing fund.
O'Malley said another early focus will be to find efficiencies in
government. O'Malley has promised to bring CitiStat, a
performance-measurement program he ushered into city hall that has won
national plaudits, to the State House.
Annapolis will also watch as O'Malley forges relationships with
Comptroller-elect Peter Franchot and Attorney General-elect Douglas F.
Gansler, Montgomery County Democrats.
Franchot campaigned with a promise that he would serve as a
counterweight to the governor, whether he is a Republican or Democrat.
Franchot's opposition to slots and his support for a $1 increase in the
state tobacco tax to fund health care initiatives put him at odds with
Gansler predicted smooth relations with the new governor, noting common
views on environmental issues and public safety. Still, some Democrats
said they would not be surprised if O'Malley and Gansler occasionally
butted heads given their ambitions.
Staff writers Matthew Mosk and Steve Vogel contributed to this report.
© 2006 The Washington Post Company