Outside the Loop, or Just Plain Loopy?


August 26, 1991|By PETER A. JAY

HAVRE DE GRACE — Havre de Grace. -- Having been away from Maryland politics for a while, I'm trying to brush up on the details and get back into the loop, as the corporate folks say. The following notes, jotted down to remind me who's who, are no doubt naive and sketchy. Reader assistance in filling them out would be welcome.

Let's start with the governor, whom I still think of as the mayor. I gather that since people have stopped telling him how wonderful he is all the time, he's even madder at the world than he used to be. He leaves office whether he wants to or not in three more years. That's probably all anyone needs to know about him.

We seem to have the same two senators. He's urbane and she's urban, but they agree on just about everything. They were shocked by the war in the Persian Gulf, and are quite certain there are no human problems which can't be cured by a tax increase. She's running for re-election next year. He has until 1994.

Then there are the representatives, and this is where it gets complicated. The last time I looked closely, about five years ago, there were people named Dyson and Barnes and Holt and Mitchell representing Maryland in Congress, and they seem to have gone away entirely. Who says nothing changes?

The change in the First District is pretty striking. For years, it seemed, everyone I knew on the Eastern Shore was complaining about Roy Dyson, and before that they were complaining about Robert Bauman. Mr. Dyson was a Democrat and Mr. Bauman a Republican. What do you suppose those people want, anyway?

The new guy in that district, Wayne Gilchrest, painted houses and taught school before he was elected to Congress, and so far I haven't heard many complaints about him, but then he's only been there for under a year.

Helen Bentley, in the Second District, is a familiar figure. I can remember when she was a reporter, but that was a good while back, and she'd seem out of place in a newsroom today. Modern reporters speak softly, in well-modulated tones, and are never heard to swear. Also, they respect computers, and as I recall Mrs. Bentley bashed a computer to pieces with a sledge hammer. Or was that a process server she bashed? I forget.

The Third District still appears to belong to Ben Cardin, no longer a bright young fellow just up from the General Assembly. Mr. Cardin is now so gray and serious as to be almost invisible, a nice quality in a member of Congress.

The Fourth District is represented, I understand, by Tom McMillen, the former basketball player. But Democrats in the state, redrawing the congressional lines as a result of the 1990 census, want to turn important parts of the Fourth over to Steny Hoyer and compensate Mr. McMillen, at Mrs. Bentley's expense, with pieces of Essex and Dundalk that he could visit by rowboat without ever leaving his district.

Mr. Hoyer has had the Fifth District for a decade, but it has a lot of black voters now and the thinking is that it should have a black representative. So the Democrats transplanted Mrs. Bentley's Second District to the heart of Mr. Hoyer's Fifth. Mr. Hoyer has bought land in St. Mary's County, which is currently in Mr. Gilchrest's district, and is no doubt out shopping for hip boots and bib overalls in which to campaign.

The Sixth District doesn't seem to have changed much, aside from the fact that Western Maryland now besieges the gates of Havre de Grace. Rep. Beverly Byron, who won the seat held by her husband after he died in 1978, is still there, as immovable as the Catoctin Mountains.

In the Seventh District the congressman is Kweisi Mfume, a former Baltimore City Council member. He succeeded the venerated Parren Mitchell, but though he votes similarly to his predecessor he seems to talk more common sense. Anyway, he's secure too -- I almost said as secure as the Maryland National Bank.

The Eighth District was and is mostly Montgomery County, which means it has some pretty weird politics. It tends to like Republicans as long as they talk and vote pretty much like middle-of-the-road Democrats. Constance Morella, who has represented the Eighth since 1986, seems to fit that description adequately.

Those seem to be the main players. Maryland also has, as I recall, a lieutenant governor, an attorney general, and a comptroller. The comptroller is of course Louis L. Goldstein. Nobody I asked could remember the names of the other two, but I intend to find out well before the elections of 1994.

@4 Peter A. Jay's column runs on alternate Mondays.

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