ANNAPOLIS- Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley became the first of the three major candidates for governor to pick his running mate Thursday with his choice of an African American legislator from Prince George’s County who is regarded as a rising star in Maryland politics.
O’Malley asked Delegate Anthony Brown, D-Prince George’s, to join him in the governor’s race at a dinner with their families Wednesday night.
“This is a powerful problem-solving partnership to improve opportunities for all Maryland families,” said Jonathan Epstein, O’Malley’s campaign spokesman.
O’Malley ‘s choice of an African American running mate from Prince George’s may end up setting a pattern for the others. Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan, O’Malley’s rival for the Democratic nomination, is said to be considering Sen. Gwendolyn Britt, D-Prince George’s, as his running mate. And The Baltimore Sun reported that Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. is considering asking Wayne K. Curry, the former Prince George’s county executive, to run with him.
Besides being from Prince George’s, the state’s second most populous jurisdiction, both Britt and Curry are African American, as is the incumbent lieutenant governor, Michael Steele, also of Prince George’s County.
Glenn Ivey, state’s attorney for Prince George’s County, regards the county as a pivotal jurisdiction for both the primary and general elections.
“For the primary (Prince George’s County) has the biggest margin, as far as Democrats there, it is also true for the general (election),” he said “There is a lot of logic in selecting from Prince George’s.”
Brown, 42, is in his second term as a delegate in the General Assembly and serves as the majority whip. The Harvard Law graduate is also a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserves and recently returned from a 10-month tour in Iraq.
“Delegate Anthony Brown and the team are very excited to join the O’Malley campaign as his running mate,” said Dawn Flythe, Brown’s campaign manager.
Political analysts said Brown may help O’Malley garner support in Prince George’s County, which is generally predicted to be a major battleground in the election.
“It’s the arithmetic that matters,” said Frank A. DeFilippo, a political commentator. “The combination of Baltimore City and Prince George’s County is the bulk of blacks in the state. The combination of Montgomery County and Prince George’s County doesn’t work as well.”
In Prince George’s County, 62 percent of the population is black. Baltimore City has a similar percentage with 64 percent, compared to Montgomery County, where about 15 percent of the population is black, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2000 Census.
Although running mates tend to fade into obscurity after the election, the 2002 candidates’ choices are remembered because they may have played a key role in determining the winner.
Ehrlich’s selection of an African American from a Democratic stronghold was seen as a coup, while his Democratic opponent, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, was widely considered to have fumbled her choice, Charles R. Larson, a white Republican and retired Navy admiral from Anne Arundel County who neither energized the Democratic base nor brought voters to the Townsend ticket.
Duncan may announce his running mate before the start of the General Assembly session. Ehrlich has not even officially announced his own run for reelection but Audra Miller, the Maryland Republican Party spokeswoman said he would choose “someone who believes in his agenda of fiscal responsibility, a commitment to the environment, better schools and keeping our citizens safe.”
Scott Arceneaux, Duncan’s campaign manager, issued a statement by email saying that while Duncan respects Brown, “the choice Democratic primary voters face is not about lieutenant gubernatorial candidates” but a choice between Duncan and O’Malley. O’Malley and Brown will formally announce the ticket on Monday at 9 a.m. at the Newton White Mansion in Prince George’s County before embarking on a statewide tour.