Duncan, O'Malley Making the Most of Boston
Tactics Differ but Goal the Same for Presumptive 2006 Rivals: Meet,
Greet and Raise Money
By Tim Craig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 28, 2004; Page A26
BOSTON, July 27 -- Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley watched from a
skybox, schmoozing with Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, as former
president Bill Clinton addressed the Democratic National Convention
On the convention floor below, Montgomery County Executive Douglas M.
Duncan sat with the Maryland delegation.
Wednesday night, O'Malley will be at the podium, delivering a
seven-minute speech on homeland security. Duncan will, once again, be
sitting with the Maryland delegation.
For the two men most likely to compete for the Democratic nomination in
Maryland's 2006 governor's race, this week's experience in Boston could
not be more different. O'Malley is being whisked by a security detail
and a half-dozen aides from event to event as he burnishes his
credentials as a national Democratic star. Duncan moves through the
crowd with a couple of aides as he homes in on the local political
leaders who could help him secure the nomination.
"He is running a different campaign," Duncan said of his potential
rival. "I'll let him do that. . . . I spend my time with the Maryland
delegation. I've always believed in grass roots."
Duncan knows what it's like to be upstaged: At the convention four
years ago, then-Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend was the media
darling and ultimately the 2002 Democratic candidate for governor.
Duncan, now in his third term as county executive, also knows that the
national attention she received did not translate into a victory in
Face-to-face time with delegates, Duncan and other party leaders say,
is far more important at this early stage of a campaign.
"Doug is very good at building relationships," said Rep. Albert R. Wynn
(Md.), a Duncan supporter. "At this stage, the important thing should
be building those relationships."
Delegates say his efforts are paying off.
"Duncan has always been grass roots," said Del. Carolyn J.B. Howard
(Prince George's). "I'm not saying that it's hurting O'Malley, but what
I will say, it's not hurting Duncan."
But O'Malley is reaching out to the Maryland delegation as well. The
one-term mayor has a well-organized outreach effort to keep his name --
and his message -- in front of Maryland Democrats in Boston.
Each morning, the delegates receive a four-page, green and white
"O'Malley Convention News" letter that features a personal message from
the mayor, the weather forecast for the day and the convention theme.
"You already feel a little of that tension in the room when people are
handing out the literature," said Montgomery County State's Attorney
Douglas F. Gansler.
On Tuesday, O'Malley distributed a gift bag to all Maryland delegates
and their guests. The bag contained a DVD that features a biography of
the mayor and his past campaign commercials.
And as an Irishman who plays in a rock band, O'Malley's March, the
mayor has also been taking his charismatic personality to the streets
of Boston, a city rich in Irish heritage. On Monday night, some
Democrats said O'Malley stole the show when he sang and played guitar
at a fundraiser for Thomas P. O'Neill III, the son of the late House
speaker Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill Jr.
"If he was not running for governor of Maryland, he could be mayor of
Boston" quipped Del. Peter Franchot (D-Montgomery), who attended the
"It's a target-rich environment for mediocre Irish folk singers," said
O'Malley, who is refusing to discuss a possible gubernatorial bid until
after he completes his campaign to be reelected mayor in November.
To add to his accolades, the mayor will receive an award Wednesday from
the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University for his
signature program: CitiStat, a computerized effort to monitor the
performance of Baltimore's agencies. Democratic leaders say he landed a
prime-time slot for his speech in part because of his ties to former
Colorado senator Gary Hart. Throughout the week, O'Malley has been
sitting for interviews, many of them set up by the national party.
For aspiring politicians, there are few better venues to explore a
potential run for office than a national party nominating convention,
with most of the state Democratic leaders and party activists gathered
in one location.
The convention also gives O'Malley and Duncan easy access to a network
of wealthy Democratic donors, whom political analysts say they will
have to tap if they are to match Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich
Jr.'s expected fundraising efforts.
O'Malley has brought his chief fundraiser, Colleen Martin Lauer, to the
convention, and he plans a reception after his speech for his
supporters and potential donors. Duncan held a similar reception
Tuesday, with O'Malley and his wife in attendance.
Thomas F. Schaller, an associate professor of government at the
University of Maryland-Baltimore County, said O'Malley's prominence at
the convention might give him the upper hand when it comes to raising
"He is recognized as a Democratic Party rising star, and people will
get a whiff of that," Schaller said, adding that there could be a
backlash among Maryland Democrats if O'Malley appears to be too focused
on the national party.
So far, many Maryland delegates say it is too early to tell whether
Duncan or O'Malley will receive the biggest boost from their efforts in
Boston this week. "We like Doug Duncan in Montgomery County, but we
recognize Martin O'Malley is like a movie star," said Louise Gallun,
vice chairman of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company