Prince George's County politicians are already maneuvering for the 2006 contests for county executive, state's attorney, sheriff and nine council seats. School board elections also will be held for the first time since the elected board was disbanded amid controversy in 2002.
The only contender to step forward to challenge County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D) is Rushern L. Baker III, one of the five candidates in the county executive's race three years ago. Baker, an education advocate and former chairman of the county's House delegation, is trying to raise money in a county where Johnson has amassed more than $600,000.
The big question is swirling around State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey (D), who has been mentioned as a possible candidate for lieutenant governor, governor or attorney general.
"I haven't figured it out yet," said Ivey, who was elected state's attorney in 2002. "I'm still considering the options and will probably make a decision in the late fall or early winter. . . . I have not ruled out running for reelection, either."
Among the factors that might influence Ivey's decision is whether Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. (D) opts to run again. Ivey has said that he might be interested in the post but that he would not run against the longtime attorney general.
Ivey has been approached by Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan and Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, likely contenders for the Democratic nomination for governor, as a potential running mate.
Mark Spencer, a former assistant to Johnson in the state's attorney's office who is now the inspector general of the Prince George's County Police Department, has indicated that he plans to run for state's attorney. He lost to Ivey three years ago.
Also up for reelection is Sheriff Michael Jackson. No opponents have surfaced.
All nine County Council seats will be on the ballot, with interesting races shaping up in three districts.
Because of term limits, Thomas R. Hendershot (D-New Carrollton) will vacate the District 3 seat, which includes New Carrollton, Riverdale Park, University Park and part of College Park. Hendershot waged an unsuccessful campaign last year to add two at-large seats to the council. His wife, Florence Hendershot, a teacher, has been called a possible contender for the seat.
The most hotly contested council race might be in District 9, a seat held by Marilynn Bland (D-Clinton) that represents the least developed part of the county -- Clinton, Croom and part of Upper Marlboro. Among those who have shown an interest in the seat are the county's deputy homeland security director, Keith Washington, a police corporal who was investigated and cleared last year in an assault case.
District 2 -- which includes Hyattsville, Langley Park and Mount Rainier -- is represented by William A. Campos (D-Hyattsville), who won a special election last year. Campos, the council's first Hispanic member, could face opposition in 2006.
It's unclear who will run for the school board, and county leaders haven't settled on what form those elections will take.
For the past three years, a nine-member board appointed by Parris N. Glendening and Wayne K. Curry, the governor and county executive at the time, has overseen the state's second-largest school system. None of the board members lives inside the Capital Beltway, a sore point for some activists, who say low-income communities are not well represented.
The format of the election might be changed during next year's General Assembly session. As the law now stands, all nine members would be elected through countywide voting. Some political leaders want to divide the county into districts and have a member elected from each.
Staff writers Avis Thomas-Lester and Nick Anderson contributed to this report.