O'Malley Will Seek 2nd Term as Baltimore Mayor

By David Snyder
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 24, 2003; Page B05

BALTIMORE, June 23 -- Mayor Martin O'Malley (D) today officially declared his candidacy for a second term, pledging to remain committed to the city even while Maryland political handicappers cast him as a possible Democratic challenger to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) in 2006.

Addressing about 150 supporters at a northwest Baltimore drug treatment center, O'Malley promised to continue what he described as a string of successes in reducing crime and poverty in Baltimore.

"Better isn't good enough," he declared. "I know there are many more people in our city who are filled with hope than those who are filled with despair."

O'Malley's opponents in the Sept. 9 Democratic primary have accused him of exaggerating the improvements made since he took office in December 1999 and have said he is focused on larger ambitions instead of the city's problems.

"Martin is using the citizens of Baltimore as steppingstones," candidate Carl Stokes, a health-care executive, said yesterday in a telephone interview. "He wants to be governor, he wants to be senator, he wants to be president of the United States."

O'Malley has said he is firmly committed to the city. Speaking with reporters after his speech in the Park Heights neighborhood, O'Malley deflected questions about his future political plans.

"I already chose to be standing here today to continue doing this work," O'Malley said, referring to his decision last year not to run for Maryland governor.

Although there are no announced GOP candidates seeking the mayoralty, the Maryland Republican Party today issued a statement critical of O'Malley, saying he "chose to focus on his future political career instead of focusing on the well-being of Baltimore's children and families."

This summer's primary offers a chance for O'Malley to broaden his fundraising connections and keep himself in the media spotlight, said James G. Gimpel, professor of government and politics at the University of Maryland at College Park.

"He has no serious opposition, either from the other party or from his own," Gimpel said. "You've got to kind of wonder how seriously he takes the mayoralty at this point. I think he's got his eyes set on bigger and better things."

None of his five primary opponents has the name recognition or fundraising prowess of O'Malley, who has raised more than $2 million for his reelection campaign. His opponents have a small fraction of that amount. Political observers already are discussing the possibility of O'Malley facing Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan in the Democratic primary for governor in 2006.

"The constituency he has to appeal to in this election is very different than that in 2006," said Matthew A. Crenson, a Johns Hopkins University political scientist. "He's got to become better known in the Washington suburbs," where Duncan is a well-known figure, he added.

"I think right now the Democrats are looking for a savior, and [O'Malley's] youth, his intelligence, his star quality -- that's what the Democrats are looking for, somebody who can save them from Ehrlich," Crenson said.

O'Malley's primary challengers are Stokes, a vice president of Mid Atlantic Health Care; Andrey Bundley, principal of Walbrook Academy, a Baltimore high school; political activist A. Robert Kaufman; lawyer Anton J.S. Keating; and Charles U. Smith, who has run unsuccessfully for city comptroller and a U.S. House seat from Baltimore.

Frank Conaway, clerk for Baltimore Circuit Court, has filed to run as an independent in the general election. State Sen. Joan Carter Conway (D-Baltimore) has said she is considering entering the race.

There will be a 14-month gap between the September primary and next year's general election. City voters decided in a referendum a few years ago to move the next mayoral general election from November 2003 to November 2004, but the General Assembly did not move the primary.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company