While most politicians are engrossed in this year's presidential election, two Montgomery County elected officials spent part of their weekend thinking about 2006.
State's Attorney Douglas F. Gansler (D), who is considering running for Maryland attorney general, says he raised $250,000 Friday night at a fundraiser at the Bethesda home of Marc and Nancy Duber. Tickets ranged from $150 to $1,000 a person.
On Sunday, several hundred people paid $35 each to attend the 14th annual Duncan family barbecue at Smokey Glen Farm in Gaithersburg. After eating chicken, ribs and homemade pies, the crowd heard a series of speeches honoring County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D), who turns 49 on Monday.
Some speakers offered subtle remarks about the 2006 elections.
Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes (D-Md.) singled out Isiah Leggett, the chairman of the Maryland Democratic Party, who is frequently mentioned as a possible candidate for county executive in two years.
"I want you to remember the terrific job he did when he was chairman of the County Council," Sarbanes said, referring to Leggett's previous tenure on the council.
For his part, Duncan teased the crowd about whether he was going to announce a bid for governor.
Sarbanes told the crowd how Democrats were going to knock on the door of the White House in two months and discover that President Bush no longer lives there.
Duncan then took the stage and said, "Two years later, when you knock on the door of the State House, I'm going to be there saying Governor Ehrlich is not here."
Handling Schaefer Gingerly
If Duncan does run for governor, Comptroller William Donald Schaefer's inflammatory remarks last week that AIDS patients "bring it on themselves" could leave the county executive in a bind.
Three weeks ago, Schaefer said on WTOP radio that he would support Duncan over Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, also a possible gubernatorial candidate, in a Democratic primary.
While Duncan supporters had hoped Schaefer could help Duncan win votes in Baltimore, the comptroller's comment has caused many elected Democrats to distance themselves from him.
But Duncan appears more conflicted.
Although he issued a statement last week saying he didn't agree with Schaefer's remarks, Duncan declined to answer a reporter's question on whether he planned to campaign with Schaefer.
"I said everything I had to in the statement," Duncan said. "I don't agree with his comments."
Van Hollen Web Site Watch
It seems that some political speculators are betting Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) wants to be a U.S. senator.
It was reported last week that Van Hollen's Republican opponent in this year's election, Charles R. Floyd, has created several Web sites using Van Hollen's name to say unflattering things about the congressman's record.
Political consultants said Van Hollen had erred by not buying up those Internet domain names before Floyd got them.
The article caught the attention of Larry Ward, president of District-based Interactive Political Media, a political advertising agency.
Ward immediately bought the domain names VanHollenforSenate.com., VanHollenforSenate.net and VanHollenforSenate.org.
"We heard Van Hollen might run for Senate one day so I thought it would be a valuable thing," Ward said. "It's a business."
Looking North for Drugs
The County Council is moving forward with its plans to allow 80,000 county employees, retirees and dependents to import lower priced prescription drugs from Canada.
On Tuesday, the council formed a six-member panel that will advise the county on the safest way to begin the process.
Chaired by Charles Mulligan, executive director of the Health Policy Center at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, the panel's initial priority will be to work with the benefits managers at county agencies to solicit bids from pharmacies willing to supply the drugs.
Last month, the council voted 7 to 2 to approve a resolution urging agencies to allow their employees to obtain the Canadian drugs.