Maryland Gov. Harry Hughes today officially dumped Lt. Gov. Samuel Bogley from his reelection ticket, replacing him with J. Joseph Curran Jr., a veteran state senator from Baltimore who shares the governor's views on abortion and gun control and may shore up his standing with Baltimore Mayor William Donald Schaefer.
Curran, 50, said he and Hughes have not discussed any specifics about his role in the administration, but Hughes made it clear Curran would have much more to do than Bogley, who was reduced to little more than a token officeholder because he disagreed with the governor on a number of issues, including abortion.
Although the selection of Curran, a 24-year veteran of the General Assembly, had been widely predicted, Curran said it was not until Wednesday--after the collapse of negotiations between Hughes and Speaker of the House of Delegates Benjamin L. Cardin--that Hughes formally asked his longtime friend to join the ticket.
Curran, whose family name is political magic in Baltimore, may help Hughes in the city, where the likely Republican gubernatorial nominee, Anne Arundel County Executive Robert A. Pascal, is counting on the strained relations between Hughes and Schaefer to aid his campaign.
The mayor, who never has been close to the governor, publicly snubbed Hughes the day he announced for reelection. But with Curran on the ticket, Pascal may find it more difficult to get the covert support that he has been hoping for from Schaefer and his supporters.
Flanked by their wives, whose friendship apparently played a role in Curran's selection, the two men took turns lauding one another after revealing one of the state's worst-kept political secrets. Hughes called Curran courageous, gifted, compassionate, caring and a man of "rare wisdom." Curran responded by saying Hughes was "the best thing to ever happen to the state of Maryland."
Although Curran was Hughes' third choice (behind Cardin and Baltimore County Executive Donald B. Hutchinson), he fits all the criteria set out by Hughes in seeking a running mate.
"Joe would be more than capable of taking over the reins of state government were something to happen," Hughes said. "He has an amazing ability to be on the right side of the issues."
Hughes never felt that way about Bogley, whom he assigned the job of acting governor only once in four years. Curran and Hughes both believe in Medicaid-funded abortions and advocate tighter gun control laws. Curran has championed gun control in the legislature for years.
While Curran was being introduced as Hughes' new partner, Bogley was in Ocean City, still mulling an offer from Sen. Harry J. McGuirk to join his ticket as lieutenant governor and challenge the Hughes-Curran ticket in the Sept. 14 Democratic primary. Hughes eliminated one possibility for Bogley today, saying that he would not consider him as a replacement for secretary of state Fred Wineland, who announced his resignation earlier this week.
"We have talked about his (Bogley) continuing to play a role in this administration in the next four years and I hope something can be worked out," Hughes said. "But secretary of state is not one of the jobs I am considering him for."
With Curran on the Hughes ticket and McGuirk awaiting an answer from Bogley, Pascal is the only major gubernatorial candidate without a running mate either announced or under consideration. Pascal reportedly is interested in George Beall, one-time federal prosecutor and brother of former U.S. Sen. J. Glenn Beall Jr. But Republican sources said today Beall would probably turn Pascal down if offered the job.
When Curran was pressed about whether he would run for governor in four years (he has said the job does not interest him) he turned to Hughes and said, "I thought you said there would only be easy questions."
The two friends laughed easily. Then they were off to their first joint campaign appearance: The DelMarVa Chicken Festival.