O'Malley praises Jessamy, no endorsement
During an appearance in West Baltimore Thursday to announce $7 million in public safety funding grants, Gov. Martin O'Malley was asked whether he would be endorsing anyone in the city's upcoming state's attorney's race.
O'Malley stopped short of endorsing incumbent Patricia Jessamy, Baltimore Sun colleague Justin Fenton reports, but offered what sounded like high praise for her, saying their "partnership has never been stronger," that they talk every day, and that her "leadership and performance" has been a big part of crime declines in Baltimore. Specifically pressed if he would endorse her, he replied: "I anticipate - yeah, stayed tuned." Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown also appeared at her birthday fundraiser over the weekend, according to reports.
That's particular notable, as friction between O'Malley and Jessamy is well-documented, and in one his last acts as mayor he increased her salary dramatically -- 60 percent, or $83,000, to $225,000 -- in what many believed was an attempt to make the position more attractive to potential challengers. When defense attorney Gregg Bernstein announced he would challenge Jessamy in the Democratic primary, Jessamy even accused of O'Malley of putting Bernstein up to it.
Following is a transcript of O'Malley's remarks, which came right after he agreed that Judge John Addison Howard had "dropped the ball" in his handling of suspect John Alexander Wagner:
The Sun: Will you be endorsing anyone in the city state's attorney's race?
O'Malley: We've done a lot of positive things together. I know you all focus on the one case where we disagreed 10 or 11 years ago. but the fact of the matter is, the partnerships between the state and the state’s attorneys office have never been stronger. I have endorsed every Democrat in our state who has endorsed me. That's been our policy, and there’s been a lot of progress made in the city of Baltimore in the last 10 years. Notwithstanding some occasional disagreements, the fact of the matter is Baltimore has achieved the third largest reduction of violent crime of any major city in America. That headline has never made a headline, but its a fact. And the partnerships with the state’s attorney, the higher level of functioning especially with the war room, and the cooperation and collaboration with the Violence Prevention Initiative, you know, underscores all of those things.
We continue to talk, and I believe the state's attorney's office led by Mrs. Jessamy has had a significant part in saving lives over these past years. It would fly in the face of the facts to say it hasn't.
The Sun: So are you endorsing Jessamy?
O'Malley: I anticipate -- yeah, stay tuned. I mean, we talk every day. Partnerships between the state and the state's attorney's office have never been stronger, positive things on the war room, violence prevention initiative. This isn’t a campaign announcement today, but i believe her leadership and the performance of that office has been a part of why Baltimore has been able to achieve historic reductions in violent crime these last three years. We need to strengthen those partnerships, we need to strengthen the connection between the information we have and the information we're able to provide police to solve crimes. It all comes down to improving clearance rates and doing a much better job every day protecting the public. That's the mission we've all been engaged in, including Mrs. Jessamy over these last few years.