Howard Dems coy but festive at bash honoring Ulman

Howard County Democrats played it coy Thursday night at their bash honoring Howard County Executive Ken Ulman but were openly proud that their favorite son is poised to join Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown as No. 2 on the 2014 gubernatorial ticket.

There were many oblique references, including from Ulman, to the announcement scheduled for Monday at the lakefront in Columbia. But at least from the podium, there were only veiled references to the worst-kept secret in Maryland politics.

The four Democratic members of the Howard County Council all delivered teasing but affectionate recollections of their dealings with Ulman, their county executive since 2006, over the years. Then they read out a mock proclamation declaring May 30 Ken Ulman Day in Howard County and June 3 -- the announcement date -- as "Ken Ulman and His Secret Partner Day."

Ulman played along with the game, making no direct reference to his impending lieutenant governor candidacy but inviting county Democrats to join him Monday morning at 8:45 a.m.

"Would you join me again at the lakefront as we take our vision and our values and the lessons we've learned ... as we bring them to a broader stage?" he asked.

But after the annual Jefferson Jackson Dinner, Howard Democrats expressed approval of the matchup of Ulman and Brown and little angst over their 39-year-old county executive's decision to pass on a race for governor.

Pat Mays of Ellicott City said she was "very excited" by the news about Ulman that broke Wednesday.

"I think it's the right decision, and I think at his young age he has a lot to look forward to," she said.

Councilwoman Courtney Watson, the likely Democratic nominee to succeed Ulman, searched carefully for words she could speak publicly before Monday without giving away the non-secret.

"I'm very excited about the future of Maryland and the role that I hope our county executive will have," she said.

The dinner was mostly a Howard County affair, but there was one notable visitor: Sen. Brian E. Frosh of Montgomery County, who is expected to run for attorney general next year. He was the only one of the mentioned attorney general hopefuls to make the event.

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