Duncan Has Completed Ticket, Allies Say
Friday, April 28, 2006
Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan has picked Stuart O. Simms, a Baltimore lawyer with a long track record in public service, as his running mate in Maryland's gubernatorial race, Duncan allies familiar with the process said yesterday.
The selection of Simms, a taciturn former state's attorney with strong ties to former Baltimore mayor Kurt L. Schmoke (D), adds racial and geographic balance to Duncan's ticket when the Democrat is trying to become better known in the Baltimore media market. Duncan plans to announce the choice next week.
"It was important for Doug to select someone who has the same sort of maturity and integrity Doug has," said Patricia C. Jessamy (D), Baltimore's top prosecutor, who has endorsed Duncan and advised him on his lieutenant governor pick. "I am happy and pleased to confirm the choice."
A Harvard-educated, African American lawyer, Simms, 55, served for eight years as state's attorney in Baltimore and held two Cabinet posts under Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D): secretary of juvenile justice and of public safety and correctional services.
Duncan's selection, which came three months later than the campaign pledged, was praised by many Democratic activists yesterday, although some cautioned that it is not without risk in the party primary against Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley.
Arthur Murphy, a longtime Democratic political consultant with the Annapolis-based Democracy Group, said Simms, whom he has known well for years, would make a great lieutenant governor. Still, he said, he was surprised by the choice of a candidate whose name has not appeared on a ballot in 15 years.
"I thought he would pick someone more high-profile," Murphy said. "If you're interested in governing, Stu is a great choice. If you're interested in winning an election, I'm not sure Stu would be your Number One choice."
Baltimore City Council member Kenneth N. Harris Sr., who is neutral in the Democratic primary, questioned whether Simms would attract voters not already inclined to support Duncan, given his support from Jessamy and Schmoke, Baltimore politicians of a similar generation.
"He's a respectable and honorable person, but I'm not sure what other voters he brings to the table," Harris said.
Simms, who has not returned phone calls in recent days, shared the news yesterday morning with colleagues at his law firm, Brown, Goldstein and Levy, people familiar with the selection process said.
Asked yesterday at a noon news conference whether he was close to a selection, Duncan appeared caught off guard, then said: "We're getting very close, yes. . . . We'll be making an announcement next week."
Duncan aides struggled in recent months over whether to select a running mate from the Baltimore area or from Prince George's County, home to more Democrats than any other jurisdiction in Maryland.