Former County Council member Isiah Leggett's bid to be elected county executive next year appears to be in high gear.

On Saturday, more than 200 supporters attended a rally that Leggett had billed as discussion of women's issues.

During the event, held at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, several elected Democratic officials from Montgomery, including state Sens. Ida G. Ruben and Rona E. Kramer and Dels. Sheila E. Hixson and Karen S. Montgomery, endorsed Leggett.

"He is brilliant, caring and modest," Hixson told the crowd, which more than once started chanting, "We need Ike."

Council member Marilyn Praisner (D-Eastern County) also pledged to work for Leggett in his race against council member Steven A. Silverman (D-At Large) for the Democratic nomination.

Leggett's wife, Catherine, hosted the event. She gave a rousing speech in support of her husband's candidacy.

"He is ethical. He is smart. He is a fabulous leader," Catherine Leggett said. "He wants to connect with the women of Montgomery County."

When he took the stage, Leggett spoke of how his mother raised 13 children in Louisiana during segregation.

"I know the struggles of women," Leggett said. "I know the struggles and difficulties you go through, when you are working two or three jobs. . . . Local government needs to make sure that your job gets easier."

He then talked about his decision in the mid-1980s to push for pay equity for women when he was chairman of the county Human Relations Commission.

Leggett, who is black, appears to be crafting a strategy of running as the candidate best suited to lead a county with an increasingly diverse population.

"This county is changing," Leggett said. "The real test of leaders in Montgomery in the future is how to recognize and effectively manage that change. I believe I represent that change."

But Silverman, whose campaign steering committee includes a broad ethnic mix, isn't about to concede ground to Leggett on issues of importance to women or minorities.

On the County Council, Silverman also has been a leading advocate for child-care programs. He also says he was the "architect" of the initiative to reduce class sizes in county schools. The effort, Silverman said, "has shown great resolve for low-income and minority children."

"I am happy to match my record in the last seven years on behalf of women and women's issues with Mr. Leggett's comments about what he did 20 years ago," Silverman said.

Mistaken Identity?

Leggett's campaign Web site appears to feature misleading photographs of the candidate with "supporters."

The site, www.ikeleggett.org, includes various photos of Leggett with Democratic leaders, including former presidential candidate John F. Kerry, Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan and U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen.

The page also contains several photographs where Leggett is portrayed as speaking with "supporters."

But one of his supposed supporters is actually Terry Lierman, chairman of the Maryland Democratic Party, who is staying neutral in the race. Another photograph features Leggett talking to Duncan spokesman David Weaver. Weaver also is neutral.

Another picture shows Leggett talking to Alec Stone, the former president of the Kemp Mill Civic Association. Stone is a Silverman supporter and in May hosted a meet-and-greet at his house for the candidate.

"I don't know Ike. I met Ike and he is a nice guy, but I have known Steve much longer and have worked with him in many capacities," Stone said.

Stone said he thinks the photograph was taken several months ago when he was complaining to Leggett about rising property assessments.

The Web site also includes a photograph of "Ike and some local children at a recent parade." When the photo is enlarged, the date -- April 25, 1998 -- appears on it.

Dumping on Silver Spring

It's no secret that Duncan is touting his record as a promoter of Silver Spring redevelopment in his bid for governor. But one Silver Spring resident thinks Duncan has crossed the line.

In a June 30 article in the Easton Star Democrat, Duncan is quoted as saying Silver Spring was "a dump" before he was elected county executive in 1994.

Duncan's word choice angered Timothy F. Reynolds, a 44-year Silver Spring resident. "Mr. Duncan is much too canny a politician to ever say such a thing in Silver Spring or anywhere else in the county, but he seems quite willing to insult an entire community just to gain votes," Reynolds said in an e-mail. "I can assure you that Silver Spring has never been either a figurative or literal dump."

Reynolds said longtime Silver Spring residents deserve an apology.

Weaver, a Duncan spokesman, refused to apologize but said "no offense was intended."

"There is no question Silver Spring was in serious disrepair," said Weaver, a Silver Spring resident. "Sometimes you got to use strong language to get strong results."

Giammo to Run Again

Rockville Mayor Larry Giammo announced on Monday that he is running for reelection.

In a statement, Giammo said he wants to continue his efforts to revitalize Rockville's town center while controlling growth, improving pedestrian and traffic safety and relieving the property tax burden.

"Together with Rockville residents, we have accomplished so much in the past four years," Giammo said. "We have more to achieve in order to make Rockville one of the very best places in the nation to live and work."

Giammo will face Brigitta Mullican, a former member of the Rockville Planning Commission, in the November election. Mullican has said her priorities include greater fiscal responsibility and improving employee morale so that fewer City Hall staffers resign.

Forehand Lines Up Support

The possible District 17 race next year between incumbent state Sen. Jennie M. Forehand and former delegate Cheryl Kagan has a new twist.

Kagan, a longtime Democratic activist who served in the House of Delegates from 1995 to 2003, has formed an exploratory committee to consider whether to challenge Forehand. In the past, she has said a number of Annapolis insiders have been urging her to run.

Forehand, who could face her toughest challenge in two decades, had a fundraiser scheduled for last night at Glenview Mansion at Rockville Civic Center Park.

Judging by the invitation, a who's who of elected officials are supporting Forehand. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) and House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) were listed as honorary co-chairs of the committee.

In all, 20 state senators and 20 Democratic House members, including almost the entire Montgomery County delegation, also were listed on the invitation as Forehand supporters.

In an interview, Forehand said the list shows Kagan doesn't have the support she thought she had.

Forehand said she has been flooded with offers of support ever since Kagan sent out a letter announcing her exploratory campaign. The Kagan letter said Forehand was no longer effective in Annapolis.

Forehand, 68, took that to mean that Kagan, 43, was saying she was too old.

"I think many members of the legislature thought they were being criticized along with me in the press release," Forehand said. "I was just amazed at how people just came up and offered their support."

But Kagan maintains that many of the people on Forehand's invitation are actually supporting her.

"I have the backing of a number of people whose names are on her invitation, but because I have not yet announced my intentions, they allowed her the courtesy to use their name," Kagan said. "Right now, Jennie is an incumbent with no declared opponent, so it is not surprising that Annapolis insiders are going to try to hedge their bets."

LEGGETT

SILVERMAN