Thursday, June 22, 2006

Bombshell

Duncan is out of the race for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. And now the real fun begin.

Although The League signaled support for Duncan's campaign against Mayor O'Malley, the Mayor's impending victory in the September primary became increasingly clear in recent weeks. Although he poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into Baltimore-area television ads, the Montgomery County Executive made little headway on O'Malley's home turf, which he needed to capture the primary. But his inability to fully close the gap between himself and the Mayor isn't the reason given for dropping out: sources attribute it to mental health concerns. Add further speculation: recent reports connecting him to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Whatever the reason, the decision opens the door for the real race to begin. Duncan's presence always served to push back the gubernatorial race until after the Democratic contender was chosen in the September primary; his absence allows O'Malley and incumbent Republican Robert Ehrlich to go head-to-head.

Duncan's forfeit is great news for O'Malley. Conventional wisdom held that he would enter the general election bruised from a primary challenger. Now he can save up all of his money and ideas to beat Ehrlich, not Duncan.

Just because he's the only Democrat left in the race, however, doesn't mean O'Malley's gonna get all the attention. Ehrlich's very public fight against the legislature's plan to deal with the utility rate increase is getting him tons of press (although the move could easily backfire). He also has two big announcements coming up: his official candidacy and his choice for Lieutenant Governor. That last one holds especial potential for good press.

We're sad to see Duncan go. He was the true liberal of this campaign and proved his leadership ability in MoCo. But this is an exciting step in what promises to be a great showdown between O'Malley and Ehrlich.

from The League: Reassembled

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