Baltimore Mayor Weighs Gubernatorial Run

Baltimore mayor Martin O'Malley said he will run for governor if the state's top Democrats continue acting like Republicans.

"If it continues to look like the Democratic Party is undergoing a transformation to become Republicans, then I'll run," O'Malley said.

The first-term Baltimore mayor complained that the current Democratic leadership would rather cut taxes than fund education, public health programs or crime-fighting programs.

"Is that a party I want to support? I don't think so. So people better wake up, they better step up, they better stop acting like Republicans and start acting like the leaders that the people of this state expect us to be."

Earlier this month, O'Malley called on the state legislature to reverse the 8 percent cut in the state income tax implemented over the past five years, pass up a planned, additional 2 percent income tax cut, increase the tax on cigarettes and consider a sales tax increase.

O'Malley, however, would not say if he is running or not, but admitted the mystery has given his comments more attention.

"The fact that when I speak out it gets more media attention because of gubernatorial speculation is a fact I can't change," the mayor said recently. "I haven't decided what I'm going to do, but I'm not going to keep my mouth shut in the meantime."

Republican Rep. Robert Ehrlich will announce Monday that he will run for governor. He is expected to face Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who has not announced her candidacy yet.

Although he has not announced his plans, O'Malley has scheduled fund-raisers at Ravens Stadium in Baltimore, in Washington, and on the Eastern Shore next month.

The mayor's comments have been received with mixed emotions in Annapolis.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller sharply rebuked O'Malley earlier this year for making critical comments without announcing whether he would run for governor, saying "little boats should stay close to shore."

"If you're going to run for governor, you don't call for an increase in taxes," Miller, a Prince George's County Democrat, said recently. "That's like Fritz Mondale at his worst."

Sen. Barbara A. Hoffman, a Baltimore Democrat who chairs the powerful Budget and Taxation committee, was more understanding.

"I think he's trying to set his Democratic credentials, to appeal to the core Democratic electorate," Hoffman said.

However, Hoffman acknowledged the mayor's comments have made her job harder.

"Here I am trying to help the city and all I get is the mayor saying how awful it is that we're doing (the budget) the way we're doing it," Hoffman said.

"I just want him to shut up from now until the end of the session."