News that former Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan is running for his former post in 2014 has not deterred those already racing for the county’s top slot.
County Council members Philip M. Andrews (D-Dist. 3) of Gaithersburg and George L. Leventhal (D-At large) of Takoma Park said they are not changing their plans to run for executive.
“I don’t think Montgomery County voters want to go backwards,” Leventhal said. “I think Montgomery County voters are looking to the future.”
“I’m running for county executive, not against any particular candidate,” Andrews said.
Duncan told supporters on Nov. 27 he wants to be county executive again and enters the 2014 race with substantially more in his campaign account than Leventhal and Andrews.
Duncan’s annual 2012 finance report showed nearly $300,000 in his campaign account, the bulk of which, according to previous filings, was held over from his 2006 bid for governor. That money can be used to run locally.
Having just hosted a fundraiser on his 50th birthday, Leventhal’s November filing showed his campaign with about $47,000.
Andrews’ latest report in early 2012 showed a balance of $0 but about $13,000 cash in his campaign account. Andrews said he will update his filing in January but doesn’t not expect to match Duncan’s campaign dollars in the 2014 race because he will continue his policy of not accepting funds from political action committees and developer interests.
Duncan, 57, was county executive for an unprecedented three terms between 1994 and 2006.
At a private meeting, Duncan announced plans that he later confirmed in an email obtained by The Gazette.
“And, as I mentioned at the close of our meeting, I will be running for Montgomery County Executive,” he wrote. “I am not seeking to return to the County Executive's office simply because it is winnable — I am returning because I have so much energy for the job and know that Montgomery County is ready to again see real progress.”
A post on the website CenterMaryland.org initially revealed Duncan was planning to tell supporters of his bid for a fourth term. The Washington Post later reported 50 to 100 business leaders attended his Tuesday announcement.
Duncan did not return repeated requests for comment.
In 2006, after three terms as executive, Duncan launched a short-lived bid for Maryland governor.
Citing depression, Duncan dropped from the race, the same year current County Executive Isiah Leggett was elected for his first of two terms.
Leggett (D) maintains that he is not planning to run for re-election in 2014, but said he will sit down with supporters after the first of the year to “talk.”
When Leggett announced he would not seek a third term as executive, it left a wide open race for the county’s top slot in 2014.
“Somebody like Doug [Duncan], I think he misses the public limelight,” said Gail H. Ewing, a former County Council member who formerly taught state and local government at Montgomery College. “He enjoyed being county executive and it sounds like would like to do it again.”
Running again would require Duncan to establish an agenda and if Leggett does put his hat back into the ring, it will have to be an agenda strong enough to defeat an incumbent, Ewing said.
When Duncan was last elected, he was atop a slate to “end gridlock” in Montgomery County, a move that led to the completion of the Intercounty Connector.
He also is widely credited with the revitalization of Silver Spring and led a shaken county in 2002 when the Beltway Snipers, John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo, terrorized the region with 10 shooting deaths.
Although Duncan was first elected during the recovery from the early 1990s recession, Mark Uncapher, Montgomery County Republican Central Committee chairman, noted that Duncan served most of his tenure in more financially flush times.
“It’ll be a change for him to handle the constraints the county is currently operating under,” Uncapher said.
Duncan proved in the past he has a knack for assembling a large cadre of people willing to go out and work for him, Ewing noted.
“It was the groundwork that really help get him elected,” she said.
Yet when it comes to grassroots efforts, Andrews “is grassroots personified,” Ewing said.
Also potentially in the mix for executive are State Del. Benjamin Kramer and Councilman Marc B. Elrich.
Kramer (D-Dist. 19) of Derwood said he is considering a bid, but will wait to see what Leggett does.
Elrich (D-At large) of Takoma Park also said he will wait to see what Leggett does before he decides his plans for 2014.