ANNAPOLIS -- Gov. William Donald Schaefer offended the Eastern Shore delegation yesterday with a private but profane reference to their home counties.
The remark was made as members of the House and Senate, who seemed to be in a particularly jovial mood, gathered in joint session for the swearing-in of state Treasurer Lucille Maurer.
As the 69-year-old chief executive made his way down the center aisle of the House chamber past a cluster of Eastern Shore delegates and senators, he reportedly leaned in and said: "How's that s--- house of an Eastern Shore?"
Since last fall's election, when seven of nine Eastern Shore counties voted against Mr. Schaefer's re-election, the governor has complained bitterly that Eastern Shore residents do not appreciate all he has done for them.
House Speaker R. Clayton Mitchell Jr., D-Kent, could not be reachedfor comment, but those who spoke with him afterward said he "hit the roof" when he heard what the governor had said.
Paul E. Schurick, the governor's press secretary, said he knew nothing of the remark and would have no comment.
Sen. Lewis R. Riley, R-Wicomico, who was standing next to freshman Delegate K. Bennett Bozman, D-Worcester, when the remark was made, said the lawmakers were stunned. "The comment was somewhat offensive to the delegation," he said. "I consider it offensive to an area I take great pride in. I'm just sorry it happened."
Asked if he thought the governor was trying to be funny, Mr. Riley said: "If he was, it wasn't amusing."
As recently as this past Tuesday, the governor was still reflecting on the election, recalling at a State House news conference how he "took a heck of a pounding" despite a 60 percent-to-40 percent margin of victory.
"I took poundings in areas such as Snow Hill, where they asked me to keep their bridge open for them so they could all vote against me. Oh, I remember so well," he said.