LESS THAN a week after entering the race for Senate in 2006, Democratic Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin snared his first major endorsement yesterday when Steny H. Hoyer, the House minority whip from Southern Maryland, said he was backing his congressional colleague.
"He's the best legislator that I've ever served with," Hoyer said, speaking between appearances with Cardin in Charles County.
Coming from such a respected figure in Maryland Democratic politics, Hoyer's announcement sends a message to others considering the race, such as Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Montgomery County.
"I would certainly hope that we would have as few candidates as possible, given Ben's great abilities," Hoyer said.
On the Democratic side, Cardin joined Kweisi Mfume, the former congressman and NAACP president, and community activist A. Robert Kaufman in the field seeking to succeed incumbent Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, who has said he will not seek re-election.
Hoyer also served in Congress with Mfume, and said that while he thinks highly of the Baltimore Democrat, "I don't think he has the breadth of experience or the knowledge of the state Ben has."
Sen. Hollinger has backers if she runs for Cardin seat
No one has formally announced plans to run for Cardin's seat, but state Sen. Paula C. Hollinger has a hefty list of endorsements. More than a dozen senators and delegates held a "Draft Paula" rally yesterday in the State House, where they handed out lists of endorsements from yet more prominent Democrats from around the state.
In all, she was promised backing by: state Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller; state Sens. Gwendolyn Britt, James Brochin, Joan Carter Conway, Ulysses Currie, Roy P. Dyson, Jennie M. Forehand, Brian E. Frosh, John A. Giannetti Jr., Lisa A. Gladden, P.J. Hogan, Edward J. Kasemeyer, Delores G. Kelley, Kathy Klausmeier, Gloria Lawlah, Nathaniel McFadden, Ida G. Ruben, Norman R. Stone Jr. and Leonard H. Teitelbaum.
Endorsements also came from Dels. Ann Marie Doory, Marilyn Goldwater, Adrienne A.W. Jones, Mary Ann Love and Shirley Nathan-Pulliam, and from Baltimore County Councilman Kenneth N. Oliver.
All, like Hollinger, are Democrats.
Hollinger said she will have to decide soon because under campaign finance laws, she could not transfer state funds to a federal race and would have to start fund-raising from scratch for a congressional bid.
Kelley, one of the ringleaders of yesterday's event, said it wasn't Hollinger's idea. But she said she doesn't think her Senate colleague will need much prodding. "I think she won't let us down," Kelley said.
Other Democrats considering a run for the 3rd District congressional seat include Baltimore Health Commissioner Dr. Peter Beilenson; Dels. Jon S. Cardin, Neil Quinter and Bobby A. Zirkin; and Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens. Brochin said he would be interested if Hollinger stays out. No Republicans have publicly expressed interest.
Ivey's potential shows; fund-raiser yields $50,000
Prince George's County State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey won't say what office he most wants to run for next, but judging from the potent lineup at his fund-raiser last week, the possibilities are vast.
Ivey, a Harvard-trained lawyer who was once counsel to former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle, is often mentioned as a candidate for lieutenant governor, attorney general or U.S. Senate.
Maryland's ranking Democratic politicians must think Ivey has potential. Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, Mfume, Cardin, Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. and Prince George's County Executive Jack Johnson all paid homage to Ivey at the event, which raised $50,000.
Duncan hires Arceneaux as his campaign manager
Duncan's all-but-declared gubernatorial campaign has signed Scott Arceneaux, a political consultant from Louisiana, as manager. He is former director of the state party there and has been praised by the Pelican State's most famous Democratic consultant, James Carville.
Yesterday, Duncan announced another tax-cut proposal for his county. In addition to a 2-cent countywide cut proposed in his fiscal 2006 budget, he suggested further reductions for seniors and others on fixed incomes.
Other expected candidates for governor want to cut taxes, too. Last month, O'Malley announced a plan to roll back city property taxes over the next few years, and Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. tried last week to cut the state property tax by a penny.