The rain poured as the donkeys and elephants filed, two by two, intoMichael's 8th Avenue Tuesday night.
But it wasn't a flood that brought the county's Republicans and Democrats together. They gathered to save themselves from a different sort of cataclysm -- congressional redistricting.
Putting aside their political rivalries, they packed the Glen Burnie catering hall to raise $10,000 to challenge the new districts in federal court next week. County political leaders are upset that AnneArundel, which has elected its own congressman for 20 years, does not have a majority in any of the new districts.
"All we're asking in Anne Arundel County is to let us elect our own congressman -- whether it's a Democrat or a Republican," said state Sen. Philip C. Jimeno, D-Brooklyn Park.
For nearly three hours, about 300 Democrats andRepublicans socialized over hot dogs and beer. The unlikely partyersincluded Jimeno and former Delegate John Leopold, the Republican whom Jimeno defeated for the Senate seat last November; Senate Minority Leader John Cade, R-Severna Park; and Sen. Michael J. Wagner, D-Ferndale, Senate majority whip.
About an hour into the evening, the state lawmakers, CountyCouncil members and former elected officials lined up at the front of the catering hall. "We really appreciate you allshowing up -- most of all some of you Republicans who have never before been to Glen Burnie," quipped Wagner, who owns Michael's and organized the fund-raiser.
Even the rank and file got into the spirit."You look at this, and you realize how strong our system really is. In spite of all of them, it works," said one Democrat, nodding towardthe line of politicians.
Conspicuously absent were U.S. Representative Tom McMillen, whose Anne Arundel district was eliminated, and County Executive Robert Neall. A McMillen aide said the Democrat is onvacation, deciding in which of the new districts he will run.
Neall was at John Hopkins Hospital undergoing treatment for a neck injury he sustained in an automobile accident last year.
Wagner said yesterday the $20-per-ticket event raised at least $9,000, though not all of the proceeds have been collected. Some leaders estimate that the lawsuit could cost up to $100,000.
John Greiber, the Annapolis attorney who has volunteered to represent the county, said he appreciated the moral and financial support. "I must admit that facing the full power of the Attorney General's Office, I feel like David searching for his slingshot before his battle with Goliath," he said.