Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan might need to start campaigning harder on his home turf in his bid to become Maryland's next governor.
Despite being county executive for the past decade, a recent poll in the Baltimore Sun indicates that less than half of the Democrats in the county currently back him in his bid to become governor.
The poll, conducted by Potomac Inc. of Bethesda and released by the newspaper on Sunday, found that 37 percent of Montgomery voters say they support Duncan while his opponent for the Democratic nomination, Baltimore Mayor Martin J. O'Malley, was supported by 20 percent. Forty-one percent of Montgomery voters remain undecided.
Duncan has been spending a lot of time campaigning outside Montgomery, in part because the conventional wisdom was that his base was secure. But the poll -- which shows O'Malley beating Duncan by 19 points statewide -- indicates Montgomery voters may not be wedded to the hometown candidate.
"We continue to be excited about our growing support in Montgomery County and the grassroots organization that is already working hard on Martin's behalf," said Jonathan Epstein, O'Malley's campaign manager.
Duncan's campaign largely downplayed the results, saying its own polls show Duncan with a sizeable lead in Montgomery.
"We're very comfortable with where Doug stands in Montgomery County based on our polling and Doug's record of accomplishment as county executive, but we are taking nothing for granted," said Jody Couser, Duncan's campaign spokeswoman.
Duncan advisers have said he needs more than 60 percent of the vote and a high turnout in Montgomery if he is to have a chance against O'Malley. According to the poll, O'Malley holds a 60-point lead over Duncan in Baltimore.
Jones Running for Council
Mike Jones, a former official in the Clinton administration, announced Sunday that he's running for county council. Jones, 43, will try to unseat four-term incumbent Marilyn Praisner (D-Eastern County), who represents District 4.
Jones, who was a confidential aid to Clinton between 1993 and 2001, said he thinks Praisner has been in office too long and is unresponsive to her constituents' needs.
"Quite frankly, I think Miss Praisner has forgotten what it means to be a candidate," said Jones, who is president of the Layhill Village East citizens association.
Jones said he's particularly upset by the county's efforts to locate the Mid-County recreation center near his neighborhood. He said he solicited Praisner's help in fighting the center, which he said will add to traffic, but found her unresponsive.
Besides the center, Jones said he plans to make an issue of Praisner's reputation for being an advocate for slower growth policies and her opposition to some highway projects.
"Looking at her record, she has consistently voted in large volume against other council members on major issues, but she has yet to give solutions," Jones said. "I call it 'hit and dodge.' She makes her statement against something and then she dodges the issue."
Preparing for Battle
Republican businessman Charles R. Floyd says there is a war happening on the United State's border with Mexico. And he plans to make that "war" a key theme in next year's elections.
Floyd, who unsuccessfully challenged Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D) in 2004, is gearing up to run for office again in 2006.
While Floyd is leaning toward challenging Van Hollen again, he's also considering running against lawyer Robin Ficker for the GOP nomination for county executive.
Either way, Floyd said illegal immigration will be his No. 1 issue.
If he runs for Congress, he plans to call for aggressive new federal laws and tactics to keep undocumented immigrants from crossing the border. If he runs for county executive, look for Floyd to criticize county officials' liberal views when it comes to providing services for residents who are not citizens.
And don't expect Floyd to temper his views with politically correct language. Instead, he plans to directly confront the notion that Montgomery County residents are generally more sympathetic to the plight of undocumented immigrants.
"I am not saying every illegal is a bad person, but I am saying they are coming in illegally, and you got persons like Doug Duncan helping them break the law," Floyd said, apparently referring to the Duncan administration's policy that non-citizens shouldn't be denied basic health and human services.
Floyd also said, "This is not only an illegal immigration issue, this is a criminal issue and a health issue. If you look at the amount of disease that comes across the border, it affects every aspect of our society."
To prepare for his campaign, Floyd says he's been spending a lot of time helping the Minutemen, a militia that patrols the border.
Last month, Floyd said he was in California when someone on the Mexican side of the border fired a shot at him -- a charge that could not be verified. He also speaks of nightly gun battles between border control agents and drug and immigrant smugglers.
"There is a war on the southern border," said Floyd, a retired military officer. "There is a raging battle on the southern border right now."
But Floyd said he's developed a plan to win that war. He wants the United States to spend $4 billion to install an elaborate network of sensors, drones and barriers. The system, which would be installed in California, New Mexico, Arizona and Texas, would be controlled by a state-of-the-art command center. The center would be backed up by a heavily armed "quick reaction team."
"These guys are not coming across without weapons, so you have to be ready for any circumstance," Floyd said.
Giammo Still Mum on Possible Run
There continue to be persistent rumors that Rockville Mayor Larry Giammo might run for another office in 2006.
Giammo has been mentioned as a candidate for county executive or an at-large seat on the County Council. There's also talk that O'Malley might ask him to be on his ticket as a candidate for lieutenant governor.
In an interview, Giammo tried to dampen that speculation, at least for now, saying he's focused on his job for mayor.
"I have not ruled anything in, but I have not ruled anything out," Giammo said.
But if you listen closely, Giammo is starting to sound a bit like a candidate for a county or state office.
"I am pleased as mayor of Rockville to be able to provide leadership on important issues like managing growth, that are important not just to Rockville but are critical issues throughout the region," Giammo said.
If he does run for county executive or the council, Giammo said it will most likely be as an independent.
Saying No to Corporate Dollars
The list of candidates pledging not to accept money from corporate interests is growing.
Two weeks ago, Saqib Ali, who is running for the House of Delegates in District 39, announced he isn't accepting contributions from corporations or political action committees.
Duchy Trachtenberg, a possible for candidate for county council, also has pledged not to accept money from developers or businesses.