While Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. (D) continues to play coy about his reelection intentions for 2006, there's a growing list of young Democrats agitating about the race.

Montgomery County State's Attorney Douglas F. Gansler has continued to signal his strong interest in the job. Last week, he raised an estimated $350,000 at a fundraiser headlined by former secretary of state Madeleine K. Albright and former U.S. senator Joseph D. Tydings (D-Md.).

The event, attended by 300 guests, was held at the Bethesda home of Lissa Muscatine, who is married to a Washington Post reporter. Muscatine is an ex-aide to former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Although Gansler has signaled interest in the race, he said in an interview last week that he will continue to sit on the sidelines while Curran mulls his decision.

"He hasn't tipped his hand," Gansler said. "There's clearly increased speculation about the job now that his son-in-law, Martin O'Malley, is announcing he's running for governor. But until Joe Curran makes his decision, there is no race for attorney general."

Montgomery County Council President Tom Perez (D-Silver Spring) made a similar assessment, saying he is "actively raising money" for a run but will wait to hear from Curran before taking a leap.

"If Joe does not retire, I will not run -- I'll be planting a lawn sign for Joe Curran," Perez said.

Two prominent Prince George's County Democrats are also expressing interest. Prince George's State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey has voiced a desire to enter the race, as has Del. Anthony G. Brown. Brown received much publicity during a recently concluded nine-month stint with the Army Reserve in Iraq.

Both have been mentioned as possible running mates in the governor's race but hinted they are more interested in the possibility of taking Curran's job.

"I would hope that whatever decision the attorney general makes, he makes it sooner rather than later," Brown said last week, adding: "I'm seriously interested in the attorney general's race."

House Democrats' Fundraising Goals

House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) has begun preparing for the 2006 elections by telling Democratic leaders in his chamber he's going to set fundraising targets for them.

Busch said he will pass out formal targets to his members at a retreat this year, but he has shared his goals with standing committee chairmen.

"The fact is, we are going to have to take steps to protect our incumbents," Busch said. "Republicans have thrown down the gauntlet by naming names and targeting seats. I think it would be foolhardy for us not to prepare to defend our seats."

Busch didn't want to be pinned down on dollar amounts but confirmed that most Democratic leaders in the House will be asked to raise at least $20,000. That money would then be distributed to candidates who need it most.

Busch added that he will be pitching in "significantly more" than what others are asked to contribute.

A Governor's Return to the Mansion

It took nearly three decades, but the official portrait of former governor Marvin Mandel, undertaken by artist Peter Egeli in 1976, finally won a space on the wall of Government House last week.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) presided over an intimate dedication ceremony in the ground-floor sunroom of the governor's mansion in Annapolis. Ehrlich's son Drew helped pull the velvet drapes off the painting, so it could be viewed for the first time since Mandel donated it to the state.

Ehrlich praised Mandel (D) as one of his longest and most loyal supporters, and for having no qualms about crossing party lines to get behind Ehrlich's campaign in 2002. The relationship has been good for Mandel, who left the Maryland political scene after being convicted on federal mail fraud charges in 1977. Mandel's conviction was later overturned, but he did not return to a prominent role in Annapolis until Ehrlich appointed him to the prestigious University System of Maryland Board of Regents.

The painting of Mandel, flanked by wife Jeanne Mandel, will hang in a public room of the governor's residence, Ehrlich said.

Staff writer John Wagner contributed to this report.

Artist Peter Egeli undertook the portrait of Marvin and Jeanne Mandel in 1976. It finally won a space on the wall of Government House last week.