It was noon at the District Heights Community Center, and there behind the coconut cake, sweet potato pie and chocolate chip cookies stood Prince George's County prosecutor Glenn F. Ivey, serving dessert.
"Oh, my goodness, I didn't realize that was Mr. Ivey," Catherine Freeman of Forestville said at the senior citizens' lunch. "I must go back up and say hello."
Glenn F. Ivey is viewed as a likely candidate for higher office.
The next evening, Ivey munched on smoked salmon wraps and gourmet apple pie as he dished with the state's political elite at a Cheverly reception.
"How are you, governor?" one man greeted him enthusiastically, pumping his hand.
"Ah, now there you go!" Ivey laughed.
Ivey, 42, may not be running for governor, but he's running for something. His prosecutor's schedule is scattered with visits to community centers and churches, schools and political gatherings. Democrats mention him as a possible running mate for either of the party's two leading contenders for governor, lending geographic and racial balance to the ticket. Others view him as a candidate in his own right for state attorney general. Some want him to run for county executive, a contest Ivey has ruled out explicitly.
"Glenn Ivey is a young man with tremendous talent, and he's very well-respected," said U.S. Rep. Albert R. Wynn (D-Md.), whose district includes much of Prince George's County. "It's not surprising that a lot of people are looking at him for higher office."
After losing the governor's seat to Republican Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. two years ago, Maryland Democrats are working hard to position the party to take back the governor's mansion in 2006. The two most likely candidates, Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley and Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, both expect to deliver their jurisdictions in the party's primary.
That leaves Prince George's County -- and Ivey, with his Ivy League education, his long list of Democratic credentials and his growing base in a community that has the state's highest number of registered Democratic voters. After lackluster support from African American voters in the 2002 governor's race, party leaders say a well-respected black candidate could energize the community.
Ivey said that he has had "conversations with both O'Malley and Duncan regarding the governor's race" but that it is at least 18 months too early for anyone to name a running mate.
"There are certainly many people who mention his name for lieutenant governor," O'Malley said at a recent prayer breakfast hosted by Del. Obie Patterson (D-Prince George's). "He's a very talented guy. . . . He's a strong state's attorney. He appeals to a broad base of people, and he was elected by the people of one of the most successful and progressive counties in the state."
Duncan, who has been turning up at Prince George's events for several months, said "it's too early to talk" about any pairings in the upcoming race.
"Clearly, Glenn Ivey is one of the bright new faces in Maryland politics," he said. Duncan said he has talked to Ivey and several others for their "thoughts on the governor's race and Maryland politics." He said Ivey "has to decide what he wants to do."
"He's focused on the state's attorney's office," Duncan said. "He needs to decide what he wants to do to serve the people of Prince George's County and the state of Maryland. I wouldn't presume to say what he is going to do."