The increasingly chilly relationship between Maryland's governor and lieutenant governor adds to the stock of what has become cocktail party chatter -- already replete with outhouse jokes and "Schaefer for president" quips.
But beyond the political trivia lies the critical question of how effective the administration will be in its remaining years. It is clear that the governor, well-known for holding grudges to the point of vindictiveness, has had it with the man he once called "the best lieutenant governor the state has ever had."
Schaefer, who demands loyalty from his troops, first found Mickey Steinberg's behavior less than loyal during the re-election campaign, when Steinberg recoiled at setting up a new fund-raising arm in his name that would have served to bloat the already well-endowed coffers of the Schaefer campaign. But Steinberg's refusal to lobby lawmakers for the Linowes tax plan was the final straw, and the governor publicly criticized him last week on WBAL's half-hour "Ask Governor Schaefer" program -- comparing Steinberg to an army officer who disobeys orders. Steinberg retorted that Maryland is not a military state. Still, the incident drives the final wedge through the once-harmonious relationship -- with inevitable political repercussions.