In what could be a historic campaign, former Prince George’s County Executive Wayne Curry has told the AFRO that he’s seriously considering a run for the governorship in Maryland.  If he runs and wins, he would become the first Black governor in the state’s history.

Curry, who served two terms as county executive, is currently working as an attorney for the Murphy Firm in Baltimore.  He said he’s frustrated with what he believes to be the current administration’s disregard for its loyal base.

“We’re in a position in many of our communities in Maryland where people are suffering dramatically and we don’t seem to get the kind of responses we need out of the people we’ve elected to lead and solve problems,” Curry said.  “In and Prince George’s in particular, we’re the most voter-rich, reliably Democratic stronghold in the entire state.

“For the votes that we put into the electoral machinery, once the election is over, people harvest our fruit and leave; we don’t see them again until the next election.”
As frustrated with the current administration as Curry may seem, he said he’s going to take his time and make a level-headed decision about running for governor.

“There are a lot of features of that are critical and important,” said Curry.  “Running for office is one of the toughest things to do in this atmosphere in a Democratic state with a Democratic incumbent.

“There are a lot of pieces that have to be evaluated.  We’re in that process and we’ll see how it turns out.”

While speculation on Curry’s possible run continues, there are many people within the state who believe someone needs to challenge Gov. Martin O’Malley.  There is a sense that Maryland’s Democratic Party hasn’t been as responsive to all of its voters, especially African Americans in Prince George’s County and Baltimore. More Black candidates should be vying for the state’s top offices, they say.

“There needs to be an icebreaker,” said Ronald Walters, director of the African American Leadership Center and former professor of government and politics at the University of Maryland-College Park.  “Somebody needs to run for one of these top offices.

“There’s a feeling that somebody ought to try it.  Mfume tried it for Senate and nobody’s yet run for governor, but there ought to be at least somebody trying it.”
Sandra Pruitt, head of People for Change in Prince George’s County (PFCPGC), agrees that it’s beneficial even if it does nothing but motivate the current administration to serve areas with high African-American populations better.

“When you look at our population, our voting power and how many votes we delivered to get the governor in – once he got into office we got no return on our investment,” Pruitt said.  “To say Prince George’s has a possible candidate for governor will wake up the current governor.”

Not everyone is convinced that Curry will run.  There’s an indication that he has a lot of other things going on right now that could keep him from running in 2010.

“I like Wayne and he’s a friend of mine but I don’t believe he is going to run for governor,” said Del. Barbara Frush (D-Dist. 21).  “I know he is working very hard to get Rushern Baker elected and I’m sure that’s taking up a good deal of his extra time.”

In the current political climate though, Walters believes that if Curry does run he stands little chance of winning.

“You would have to unseat a sitting governor by finding out he’s done something really bad,” Walters said.  “O’Malley has not really done anything egregious to cause people to look around to find something else.

“What would you change by electing Curry?  Would the economic situation change if you elected Curry?  The answer to that is no.  I don’t know what Curry can offer in order to make people change their minds and unseat O’Malley.”

Whatever happens, Curry has made it clear that he thinks things need to change.
He said, “There is a current practice of indifference and invincibility, but there is really an unsatisfied hunger for leadership, seriousness and accountability.”


George Barnette

Special to the AFRO