Politics watchers have been weighing for some time the two big questions in the Montgomery County executive’s race. Will Ike Leggett seek a third term? Will Doug Duncan attempt a comeback?
Duncan answered the latter question when he told a group of business colleagues that he would run for an unprecedented fourth term.
The former county executive has an impressive list of accomplishments, including the revitalization of Silver Spring and his leadership during the Beltway sniper attacks in 2002. Any politician would covet those points on a resume.
But in the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world of Montgomery politics, how many people remember Silver Spring when it needed to be revitalized? How many voters ducked for cover when they were filling their gas tanks? Duncan has spent more than six years out of the public eye. That gap means he has little recent to brag about in his stump speech.
That’s not to say Duncan couldn’t be a relevant candidate for 2014. Thousands of people have jobs because of Duncan’s economic development efforts. Many voters would entrust him to take the reins in guiding the county to a more prosperous future. But he governed in relatively prosperous times and Montgomery’s public employees benefitted greatly.
Leggett’s will-he-or-won’t-he question won’t be decided until January, observers say. In the meantime, the executive’s race is a three-way contest, with two County Council members saying they’ll seek the office at 101 Monroe St. Both have interesting intersections with the Duncan administration. Councilman George L. Leventhal benefited from Duncan’s 2002 “End Gridlock” campaign. He has a reputation as a liberal stalwart, though at times he’s sounded downright conservative as the council has steered more leftward. Councilman Philip M. Andrews never revolved inside the Duncan sphere of influence. And where Duncan courted public employee unions, Andrews has a track record of antagonizing them.
Fasten your seat belts; it’s going to be a bumpy campaign.
One other thing to note in Duncan’s announcement. He hasn’t been interviewed. Every politician complains about the press, but few politicians pass up a chance at free media. Duncan’s no commenting is puzzling.