Former delegate and former Democrat Patrick L. McDonough is launching a free 24-page tabloid that he calls the Maryland Citizen, with a decidedly conservative bent.
With an eye on running for the 3rd District congressional seat held by Democrat Benjamin L. Cardin, the new publisher plans to distribute his first issue this week around Baltimore County and another in September. He hopes it will become a monthly circulated throughout the metropolitan area next year.
"We don't masquerade about being objective," he said. "To my people, we say: 'Get your facts together, do research, then write an opinion piece!' "
And make that a conservative one. That's the spin -- so the other local newspapers need not worry about new competition, he said.
Maryland Citizen will be like "talk radio of the printed word," said Mr. McDonough, who from 1991 to 1993 owned the Bel Air radio station WHRF-AM and aired community-oriented shows. He is a regular guest on "Conference Call," a talk show on WCBM-AM in Baltimore.
Mr. McDonough said his first issue -- expected to appear in 7-Eleven and Royal Farm stores from Catonsville to Dundalk -- will include a presidential straw poll for readers.
"We believe there's a large market out there and a need to have a conservative point of view on many of the local issues," he said.
Mr. McDonough, 51, changed his party affiliation to Republican in 1988, after serving one term as a Democratic state delegate from 1978 to 1982.
He managed Roger B. Hayden's successful 1990 election campaign for Baltimore County executive and became one of his assistants. He ran unsuccessfully for county register of wills last year.
Although he will not make it official until around Labor Day, Mr. McDonough said, he plans to challenge Mr. Cardin in next year -- and the Maryland Citizen might play a role.
He says the publication will print Mr. Cardin's voting record and maybe those of other Maryland Democrats. Mr. Cardin did not return calls seeking comment.
Some Marylanders active in GOP politics say there is a place for the Maryland Citizen.
"I think [the publication] presents an opportunity for the citizens to get a different perspective, and they'll be the judges of whether it is a good idea or not," said Kent Swanson, chairman of the Baltimore County Republican Party. He said the county's election of several Republicans last year to the state legislature could suggest a local appetite for conservative views.
Baltimore Republican Party Chairman David Blumberg said Mr. McDonough's party shift doesn't matter. "I think The Sun paper can certainly use a challenge, and I think this is it," he said.
With a $200,000 starting operating budget, the Maryland Citizen will raise money through classified advertisements, investors and membership in a discount club, Mr. McDonough said.