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May 16, 2005

WaPo scoop: Politicians hope to benefit from sniper trial

Yeah, like, DUH!

When Virginia officials decided last week to send convicted snipers John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo to Maryland for prosecution, they presented two of Montgomery County's most ambitious politicians with a potential opportunity to overcome a nagging problem they both share: low visibility beyond the Washington suburbs.

But for State's Attorney Douglas F. Gansler and County Executive Douglas M. Duncan -- both Democrats who are widely expected to run for statewide office in Maryland next year -- the prosecution of Malvo and Muhammad in Montgomery also presents a range of possible political liabilities if the case is perceived as too costly or goes badly for the prosecution.

Gansler, who has all but declared his candidacy for Maryland attorney general, probably will be in front of television cameras for much of the lead-up to the trial. Duncan, expected to run for governor, almost certainly will have a less prominent role, but as the county's top elected official will be expected to weigh in on the trial from time to time.

But they may already have missed the boat, especially Gansler, who lobbied hard as soon as the snipers were caught to try them first in Montgomery County. (Fortunately, he lost, and they were tried and convicted in Virginia.)

And here's the best part of the Post article:
To become known outside the Washington suburbs, Duncan and Gansler will have to sell their case in parts of the state that often cast a skeptical eye on liberal, affluent Montgomery County, said Donald F. Norris, a professor of public policy at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

"I don't think anyone coming out of Montgomery County is yet seen by the rest of the state as being a true Marylander," Norris said. "There is still a good deal of tension between Montgomery County and the rest of the state because Montgomery County is quite different in many respects."
It's not just that Montgomery County is liberal; Baltimore and Prince George's County are liberal. What it is is that wonderful combination of being liberal and rich and feeling immensely guilty about it, so guilty that every year our state representatives smile as their pockets are picked in Annapolis -- or, really, I should say our pockets are picked.

Come to think of it, I wouldn't want to be governed by anyone from Montgomery County, either.