Duncan, O'Malley win high-profile endorsements

ROCKVILLE — Rockville -- Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley and Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, rival Democratic candidates for governor, each snagged a plum endorsement on the other's turf yesterday.

Rockville Mayor Larry Giammo, an independent who has a strained relationship with Duncan, announced his support for O'Malley during a news conference at a local community center, saying he is impressed with the mayor's record of leadership and progress in Baltimore.


Meanwhile, Baltimore State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy, who has butted heads with O'Malley for years on how to handle violent crime in the city, endorsed Duncan in Baltimore.

"Mayor O'Malley has an open mind, and he's always receptive to new ideas," Giammo said, noting that he voted for Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. in 2002 but is not happy with his record.


In backing Duncan, Jessamy, who is rumored to be a possible running mate, took a shot at O'Malley, who leads an Irish rock band.

"Cute and charismatic are qualities I look for in an actor or pop star, not qualities I look for in a governor," Jessamy said.

Jessamy said Duncan had "unquestioned integrity." She said he is honest and hardworking and has the maturity to lead the state. "Those are the qualities I look for in a public servant," she said.

Rockville, although much smaller than Baltimore, is a practical and sentimental battleground for the candidates, both of whom spent much of their childhoods here.

O'Malley's mother still lives in Rockville, as does some of his family.

Duncan's mother and several of his 12 siblings and their families also live nearby.

Giammo said yesterday that he's been disappointed with the Ehrlich administration, noting what he called the governor's slots bill "fixation," which he said he doesn't understand, and the governor's 2004 statement that multiculturalism is "bunk."

"It sounded as though for the governor, multiculturalism is a problem," Giammo said.


Asked if his endorsement of O'Malley is a comment on Duncan's leadership of the county, Giammo took a pass.

"I'm not going to say anything negative about anybody, because that's just not the way I am," he said.

Duncan endorsed Giammo's opponent in 2003, and the two have since been unable to mend fences.

O'Malley's dealings with Jessamy have also been complicated. They've routinely feuded over criminal justice matters. Their animosity peaked in 2001 when he reacted to Jessamy dropping charges against a police officer in a corruption case, all but calling for her resignation in a tirade.

"If she doesn't have respect for the police, if she doesn't have respect for the people of this city, maybe she should get ... out and let somebody else in who's not afraid" to do the job, O'Malley said in a 2001 interview with The Sun.

In the basement of an East Baltimore church, Duncan, who has made Baltimore a frequent stop on the campaign trail and who needs to build a base of support there to be competitive statewide, wouldn't budge yesterday when asked by reporters if he would consider Jessamy for a position in his administration.


"She's focused on being state's attorney," he said. "I want her as a partner here."