By Jonathan Mummolo
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Prince George's County State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey said Wednesday that he has decided not to run for county executive and is forming an exploratory committee to look at challenging Rep. Donna F. Edwards in the Democratic primary next year.
"At this point, we're focusing on the run for Congress," Ivey said, adding that his decision to challenge Edwards (D-Md.) is not final. "I used to work on the Hill. . . . I thought it was fulfilling public service, and this is a great time to get back to that work, too. You've got President Obama in the White House, Democratic control of the House and the Senate. I think it's a great time to push a progressive agenda."
Ivey declined to address Edwards's record or comment about why he thinks the incumbent of his party should be replaced.
Edwards was elected to her first term last year after challenging eight-term Rep. Albert R. Wynn in the Democratic primary for the 4th District seat. In a race that attracted national attention, Edwards said Wynn had become too close to business interests and was more conservative than his constituents in Prince George's and Montgomery counties.
Edwards's spokesman did not return a request to comment Wednesday.
Ivey is in his second term as state's attorney and has long been considered a top contender to replace outgoing County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D), who is term-limited. Ivey's decision to look at challenging Edwards surprised some.
"I was shocked," said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert). "I think it's a bold move on his part."
Paul S. Herrnson, director of the Center for American Politics and Citizenship at the University of Maryland, said Edwards's incumbency would give her a traditional advantage.
On the other hand, he said, although it is difficult to defeat incumbents, it is easier in a first term.
"They represent different wings of the party. Edwards is much more liberal, and Ivey is much more moderate," Herrnson said.
Ivey has served as senior legislative assistant to Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) and chief counsel to former U.S. Senate majority leader Tom Daschle and was assistant U.S. attorney for the District in the 1990s. If he challenges Edwards, he would probably have company, as two-term Del. Herman L. Taylor II (D-Montgomery) is also expected to run.
"I'm still exploring the possibility of a challenge" to Edwards, Taylor said. "I'm slated to make an announcement soon."
Meanwhile, Ivey's apparent departure from the county executive field is a boon for Rushern L. Baker III, a former state delegate, several observers said. Baker and Ivey are close friends, both have strong name recognition in Prince George's and they would be targeting the same base of support if they ran against each other.
Baker, a Democrat who has run for executive twice unsuccessfully, said that regardless of Ivey's intentions, he is in the race to address issues such as education, transportation and health care.
"From the beginning of this process, my focus has been on the things I think we need to change in Prince George's County," Baker said. "It wasn't based on who was in the race."
Even without Ivey, Baker won't have the field to himself. County Sheriff Michael Jackson (D), County Council member Samuel H. Dean (D-Mitchellville) and Del. Gerron S. Levi (D-Prince George's) have said they are running.
"If Glenn's not in the race, is that better for Rushern, or is that better for me? I'm not sure yet," Jackson said Wednesday. "I've got to kind of weigh that, because they are coming from the same community, the same district, so if the two of them are in the race that might be better for me."
Staff writer John Wagner contributed to this report.