He may have been gone from the public eye for more than two years, but former Prince George's County Executive Wayne K. Curry is not about to be forgotten.

Curry (D) turned up at events with Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley and Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, both Democratic contenders for governor in 2006, and with Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, within the span of about three hours last week.

Asked to explain, he said coyly, "I've been quiet for 21/2 years, and in my quietude, a great disturbance seems to have grown up around me."

The great disturbance of which Curry won't speak is the rampant speculation that he is considering crossing party lines and that Ehrlich is considering him as a potential running mate in 2006.

Curry did nothing to end that speculation, saying, "I know it's not wise to simply base decisions about the future on the color of the uniform. . . . I've observed that political labels don't mean a lot when it comes to understanding and dealing with questions of race."

He has clearly been annoyed with Democratic Party leaders who have been circulating the names of other African American politicians for attorney general and lieutenant governor, including Prince George's Del. Anthony G. Brown and State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey.

Asked if he felt snubbed, Curry replied: "I got so accustomed to that style of treatment from my party when I was in office, I wouldn't even know how to identify a snub from them anymore."

Curry has come a long way from where he positioned himself when he left office and announced his decision to join William H. Murphy Jr. & Associates, a Baltimore-based law firm best known for its criminal defense work.

"Right now, my principal objective is to concentrate on restoration, which includes the restoration of my checkbook," Curry said at the time.

War of Words Escalates in Governor's Race

Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan hasn't been shy in recent weeks about pointing to perceived shortcomings in Mayor Martin O'Malley's stewardship of Baltimore. Duncan, who presides over Maryland's wealthiest jurisdiction, has highlighted Baltimore's crime and struggling schools, using rhetoric that O'Malley allies have said is an affront to the city.

Last week, the mayor pushed back -- in true O'Malley fashion.

"There are some who confuse the concept of accumulated wealth with the concept of progress," the mayor opined to an audience of about 500 Democrats in Prince George's County.

Duncan, who later addressed the same audience, declined to comment on the mayor's comments, saying he was staying focused on "real issues."

Duncan campaign manager Scott Arceneaux did not feel similarly restrained. He said that best he could tell, "the mayor was taking a shot at the hard-working people of Montgomery County and the progress they have made." That, Arceneaux said, "seems a little hypocritical."

Aides to O'Malley said the mayor was speaking about those who use the wrong yardstick to judge Baltimore and wasn't commenting on a jurisdiction. "This is just silly. There's nothing negative in that quote," campaign manager Jonathan Epstein said.

Ehrlich Diving Into the Halloween Spirit

With two young children in the house, Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) can always be counted on for a festive Halloween display at the state-owned mansion in Annapolis where he lives. But this year the decorations have some wondering whether he's taken the whole holiday decorating thing a tad too far.

Back is the Volkswagen-size inflated pumpkin by the Government House's main entryway.

But this year the giant Jacko is joined by a pumpkin-headed monster, light fixtures painted to look like bloodshot eyeballs, strobe lights and ghosts, along a haunted path that leads, strangely, to the gaudy fountain commissioned by Hilda Mae Snoops, companion of former governor William Donald Schaefer (D).

If nothing else, the display caught the attention of Virginia Gov. Mark R. Warner (D), who was visiting Annapolis last week. "I'm glad my kids didn't see your house, because I think they'd want me to ramp up our Halloween decorations," he told Ehrlich during a joint news conference.

Ehrlich later turned to D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D). "I'm now going to recognize the mayor, who I'm told is decidedly pro-pumpkin." Williams smiled, rolled his eyes and gave the display his full endorsement.

Health Care Advocates Cite Wal-Mart Document

Advocates of legislation that would require Wal-Mart to spend more on employee health benefits in Maryland are pointing to disclosure of an internal company document to bolster their case.

In the document, first reported by the New York Times, a company executive acknowledged that "our critics are correct in some of their observations. Specifically, our coverage is expensive for low-income families, and Wal-Mart has a significant percentage of associates and their children on public assistance."

Vincent DeMarco, a health care advocate, said last week that the disclosure should help rally lawmakers to override a veto of the bill by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) when they reconvene in January.

Staff writer Ovetta Wiggins contributed to this report.

D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams, left, Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and Virginia Gov. Mark R. Warner with Ehrlich's giant inflated pumpkin.