Duncan campaign takes a step forward -- Gazette.Net



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Douglas M. Duncan’s campaign for a fourth term as Montgomery County Executive may have picked up steam in the past few weeks, but some county Democrats are surprised by what they’re hearing.

Duncan scored a high-profile endorsement from U.S. Rep. John Delaney (D-Dist. 6) of Potomac earlier this month, and took to the airwaves May 23, criticizing current County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) and claiming the county needed a much more active and visible leader in an interview on the local “Political Pulse” news program.

But Stanton Gildenhorn, a former chair of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee who now serves as counsel to the body, says that argument struck him as odd.

“The Duncan campaign seems to be about an allegation that [Leggett] is passive, and isn’t energetic enough,” Gildenhorn said. “I don’t think that will work.”

Leggett has not yet said whether he’ll seek a third term, but Gildenhorn said he has no doubt the incumbent executive will run again.

“I don’t think he’s vulnerable,” Gildenhorn said. “Ike really doesn’t have any enemies. He’s very well-liked.”

Democratic activist and former central committee member and Susan Heltemes also thinks Leggett would easily be re-elected.

“He’s brought us through some very difficult fiscal times,” Heltemes said. “Voters will appreciate that.”

Heltemes said she and many other former Duncan supporters — she worked on his initial county executive campaign in 1994 — haven’t yet heard from Duncan about his upcoming run. Gildenhorn, also a former supporter, said he hadn’t heard from Duncan, either.

Duncan was not made available for comment.

With the June 2014 primary more than a year away, Duncan’s campaign manager, Kurt Staiger, said in an email that the candidate is meeting with individuals and groups to discuss the issues facing the county and listening to their ideas about how the government can better serve them.

The only candidate who has filed to run for county executive is County Councilman Phil Andrews (D-Dist. 3) of Gaithersburg. Councilmembers George L. Leventhal (D-At Large) of Takoma Park, Marc Elrich (D-At Large) of Takoma Park and Valerie Ervin (D-Dist. 5) of Silver Spring are also considering running for the office.

Republican James F. Shalleck told The Gazette last week that he, too, was considering a run.

Duncan, 57, served as county executive from 1994 to 2006, and began a run for governor in 2006 but abruptly dropped out, citing a fight with clinical depression. He has been vocal about the successful treatment of his condition with medication.

Duncan’s legacy includes the revitalization of downtown Silver Spring, and he told Political Pulse host Charles Duffy that he wants the county to be more aggressive in recruiting businesses and wants to make sure transportation projects such as the proposed Purple Line light-rail system and the Corridor Cities Transitway bus rapid transit system remain priorities in the county. Duncan also told Duffy he supports a public-private partnership to put express lanes on Interstate 270 and another bus rapid transit system along Rockville Pike.

Duncan also told Duffy he’d met with Leggett last year, and that Leggett had said he would not run and that Duncan should go ahead.

dleaderman@gazette.net