State Sen. Robert J. Garagiola received a late campaign boost Thursday by winning the endorsement of Gov. Martin O’Malley in the race for Maryland’s 6th Congressional District seat.
Garagiola and John Delaney have sparred almost daily for the Democratic nomination, which will be decided in Tuesday’s primary.
They also have tried to outdo each other in endorsements, with Garagiola getting the backing of numerous labor unions, progressive groups and elected officials, and Delaney winning support from former President Bill Clinton, Maryland Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot and two newspaper editorial boards.
The Democratic nominee will face the winner of an eight-way Republican race in November. U.S. Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, R-Md., is trying to win an 11th term.
“I feel I’m the best candidate to take on Roscoe Bartlett. I think he’s going to be the nominee,” Garagiola said. “We’ll see. We’ll let the voters decide.”
“At this critically important time, when people are now paying attention, I wanted to throw my support, my personal support, behind Senator Garagiola,” O’Malley said.
O’Malley called Garagiola “an extremely effective state senator” who his colleagues trust and “turn to for leadership time and time again.”
The endorsement came the same day that the Maryland General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics held a closed-door meeting, three days after receiving a complaint about Garagiola.
Randa Fahmy Hudome of Potomac, Md., a Republican, filed the complaint on Monday, targeting Garagiola’s failure to disclose his past work connections on certain required state financial disclosure forms.
Afterward, William G. Somerville, an ethics counsel to the legislature, would not comment on any aspect of the 50-minute meeting on Thursday.
Del.Brian K. McHale, D-Baltimore City, the committee’s House chairman, also would say little about the meeting. When asked if the committee planned to meet again before the session adjourns on April 9, McHale said it would.
Garagiola didn’t attend the meeting.
Hudome wrote in an email on Tuesday that she received an email on Wednesday indicating that her complaint would be discussed at the joint committee’s next meeting, which was Thursday.
In financial disclosure forms, Garagiola didn’t list his work as a lobbyist with Greenberg Traurig from 2001 to 2003 and his position with his current employer, the law firm of Stein, Sperling, Bennett, De Jong, Driscoll, PC, from 2004 to 2006.
After addressing supporters with O’Malley, Garagiola said in an interview that it was an omission caused by unclear wording on the form — wording that later changed — and he wasn’t trying to hide his background.
He said he amended his financial disclosure forms the next business day after Delaney’s campaign questioned them.
“I think we’ll get cleared of any wrongdoing at the end of this,” he said, criticizing Delaney’s campaign for accusing him of lying.