SILVER SPRING -- Patrick J. Smith, the Montgomery County lawyer who ran Paul E. Tsongas' victorious Maryland Democratic presidential primary race in 1992, last night officially kicked off his campaign for state attorney general.
"I am happy to come here and tell you that, incumbent or no incumbent, I'm in this race to stay till November 1994," Mr. Smith told about 125 supporters at a $100-a-ticket fund-raiser at the Indian Hills Country Club.
Mr. Tsongas, a former Massachusetts senator, was on hand to endorse Mr. Smith, telling the audience, "What I find exactly right about Pat . . . is that Pat understands that a state official has a role to play in bringing about economic growth."
The Democrat of the future, Mr. Tsongas said, must be, like Mr. Smith, "liberal on social issues . . . and aggressively pro-growth on economic issues."
Paul Smith Mr. Smith, 45, is one of two Democrats challenging the two-term incumbent, J. Joseph Curran Jr., for the party's nomination. The other is Eleanor M. Carey, former deputy attorney general and now a Paul Smith lawyer in Baltimore. Richard D. Bennett, a former U.S. attorney for Maryland, is seeking the Republican nomination.
Mr. Smith faces an uphill battle, but is not starting from scratch. He begins with the base of supporters in the Baltimore and Washington suburbs established for Mr. Tsongas' victory in the Maryland primary.
For seven months, he has been courting Democrats elsewhere in the state, Baltimore City, the Eastern Shore, Western Maryland and Southern Maryland, he said.
In addition, he has named Grason Eckel, a Democratic Central Committee member from East Baltimore, to manage his campaign.
Mr. Smith has promised to make economic development a keystone of his campaign strategy, insisting that the attorney general can play an important role in attracting new business to the state.
"What has happened here in Maryland is we have created a very unhealthy economic development climate," he said.
Among those present last night was Nathan Landow, former state Democratic Party chairman, who said he is supporting Mr. Smith and would assist him in raising campaign funds.
"I think he's a rising star in the world of Maryland politics," said Mr. Landow.