Montgomery County executive candidate Neal Potter was joined yesterday by Democratic Party officials and County Council candidates in a show of party unity aimed at healing the wounds of this month's bitterly fought primary.
"It is time for the Democratic Party to move forward together," Potter said as he embraced the candidacies of council members who had been allied with incumbent executive Sidney Kramer.
Potter acknowledged there are sharp differences between him and some of the council candidates, but he said discussion and debate are a tradition in the Democratic Party.
"We have never been monolithic in our approach, and we believe in minority representation as well as majority rule," said Potter.
It was a new role for Potter, a political maverick who spent many of his 20 years on the County Council in the minority and who is now head of a Democratic ticket that includes nine other members.
Potter went out of his way to be conciliatory. He thanked Kramer for his recent show of support. He praised the incumbent for the job he has done and said he plans to call Kramer for help.
Kramer was not present for the Rockville news conference, but Potter tried to put to rest criticism that he had questioned Kramer's integrity.
During the campaign, Potter circulated a brochure that said Kramer placed the interests of his family's real estate business ahead of the public's interests.
Potter said yesterday that "if anyone feels I questioned Sid Kramer's integrity, I believe this was an unfortunate misinterpretation that is now behind us."
Since his upset of Kramer in the Sept. 11 primary, Potter has spent much of his time reaching out to people and organizations that had opposed his candidacy.
He has focused on the business community, which is leery of his support for myriad new taxes, and has set up a series of meetings.
"I am stressing stability," Potter said. He also is set to meet on Friday with Gov. William Donald Schaefer, who campaigned for Kramer in the county.
Potter noted there is still another election to win and that he is not taking for granted the general election on Nov. 6, when he faces Republican Albert Ceccone.
Potter said Democrats have the best chance if they are united. Increasing Republican registration in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase area and upper Montgomery provides opportunities for GOP candidates, who also are helped by the first-ever election of council members by district.
Although he said he expects a vigorous election campaign, Potter this week named a committee to start canvassing community groups for information he will need if elected.
The committee, composed of former Planning Board chairman Norman Christeller, lawyer Ruthann Aron, former county chief administrative officer Bill Hussmann and Silver Spring civic activist Gene Lynch, has been charged with meeting with members of the county's civic, labor and business communities.