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Democrat Owings out of governor's race, reports say

Democrat George W. Owings III, a former state lawmaker from Southern Maryland and veterans secretary in the administration of Republican Bob Ehrlich, is dropping out of the governor's race as he recuperates from major surgery, according to reports.

The Washington Post reported the departure Wednesday evening, as did the Associated Press. Owings' campaign web site appeared not to have been updated with the information as of Thursday morning.

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Owings had mounted an upstart challenge from the right to incumbent Gov. Martin O'Malley, stressing fiscal restraint.

Owings exit from the race reduces the chances that O'Malley will be embarrassed at the ballot box in the September primary. In a year when voters are expected to register their discontent with incumbents, and especially those of the same party as Democratic President Barack Obama, significant vote tallies by Owings would have been viewed as a sign of weakness for O'Malley.

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In 2002, a retired grocery store clerk from Silver Spring, Robert Fustero, collected 20 percent of the vote in the Democratic gubernatorial primary against heavily favored Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. The showing of Fustero -- who selected a homeless man as a running mate and spent less than $1,500 on his campaign -- was glaring evidence of Townsend's flawed candidacy. She went on to lose the general election to Bob Ehrlich.


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