Monday, January 25, 2010

Spies Report Back on Curry Birthday Celebration

The Post’s Jonathan Mummolo wrote a nice article on former Prince George’s County Executive Wayne Curry’s birthday celebration. Well, we had three moles inside the jam-packed room (photographed below) and they have filed their intelligence reports with the spymasters of MPW.

All three informants are high-powered Democrats who cannot be named. Spy #1 said this on returning from the event:

The Wayne Curry event is so much more significant than I thought until I attended last night. Doug Duncan is still an incredibly popular guy, he spoke from the podium. If I were guessing I would say there were 3 thousand people there, at least. I am told that they oversold the place by 600. It was like a coronation. Rushern Baker, Kurt Schmoke and other powerhouses from the past came out to pay their respects. I know a lot of electeds there and they all told me the same thing - Gov. O'Malley get ready for a rumble.
When I sent Spy #1 a link to an article in which Curry denied immediate plans to run, this person replied, “Bullsh*t. This man is running for Governor.”

Spy #2 said this:

The room was packed with Curry supporters, including some very influential people and so many of the people you’d want working on your campaign. If Wayne was reluctant, that night – that crowd – should push him over the line.
Spy #3 offered these reflections on the event and on a possible Curry challenge to O’Malley.

I was there and the turnout was phenomenal. I don’t estimate crowds well but considering all the tables were filled and there were tons of people who were standing room only, I’d say it had to be in the neighborhood of 3,000. Proceeds were originally slated to go to The Learn Foundation, which was created in conjunction with the opening of the Sports and Learning Complex adjacent to FedEx Field, but the organizers turned it into a fundraising event for Haiti. That announcement was well-received by the attendees.

Is Wayne going to run for governor? I have no idea at this point. What I do know is that there are a lot of people pushing him to do it. They are promising him that more than enough money will be there for him to win, reminding him of the demographics of the Democratic primary (large African-American voting bloc), and the current state of the economy and voter anger and frustration with government's response. While you can’t say the global recession is O’Malley’s fault, somebody has to incur the wrath for a prolonged recession. There is a story in today’s Baltimore Sun regarding Maryland's joblessness rate increasing to levels not seen since 2001. The business community is unlikely to be supportive of a re-election bid given the number of policies and initiatives that were labeled “anti-business” by various business groups. No, they won’t outwardly embrace an underdog but below the radar help is likely. State employees who will be furloughed for a third year in a row under the proposed budget might be willing to go in a different direction but at the very least, they won’t be motivated to campaign and vote the way they typically would. Finally, you have George Owings who is going to do very well among conservative Democrats, particularly in Southern Maryland. In a head to head matchup, those are votes O’Malley would likely get over Curry. In a three way race, a strong showing by Curry among African-Americans (particularly if they turn out in huge numbers) and a strong showing among conservative Dems could make this a very interesting primary.

Another difficult decision O’Malley would have to make with a Curry candidacy is how do you campaign against him. Does he or his surrogates bring out the heavy ammunition and blast away? Conventional wisdom says you should do that and try to prevent any momentum from taking hold. The problem with that strategy is that you would be tearing down a man many Prince Georgians have a tremendous amount of respect for, particularly in light of the leadership we have had since his departure. That could pose a significant problem in the general election if Ehrlich runs. Prince George’s County will vote overwhelmingly for the Democratic nominee percentage wise but will the raw numbers be there if one of their own has been disrespected by the nominee? O’Malley’s margin of victory over Ehrlich was greatest in Prince George’s County than any other jurisdiction by at least 40,000 votes if memory serves me correctly. If that margin just drops to the level of Montgomery County and Baltimore City, things get real interesting in that race as well.

Finally, and this may be the most difficult thing to quantify, is that Albert Wynn and Jack Johnson were standing shoulder to shoulder with Wayne at the event. Together, they represented three of the strongest political machines in the county over the last 15-20 years. Only the Big Daddy machine was in the same category as theirs. If they find common ground and stand united, who does O’Malley work with in Prince George’s County in both the primary and general elections? Rushern Baker, Michael Jackson, and Anthony Muse (if he runs) all have strong connections to those factions of county politics. Anthony Brown resides in the county but he’s not from the county. His achievement and accomplishments are respected but he doesn’t have the deep ties to the county you need to rally the troops if the major machines decide to sit it out.
If Wayne Curry runs against O’Malley, he will carry Prince George’s County and make inroads into Baltimore City. But O’Malley would be the favorite because he can tap into the poor image of Prince George’s County that is shared by many MoCo voters. The best way for Curry to counter that is by signing on former County Executive Doug Duncan as his running mate. Duncan would be more than happy to attack the incumbent Governor’s record while the Governor’s team would have to tread carefully with Curry. As Spy #3 says, that could make for a very interesting primary.