Primary wins could reunite friends in Congress Wynn, Hattery met in State House

March 05, 1992|By Laura Lippman | Laura Lippman,Annapolis Bureau

ANNAPOLIS -- Call it a Wynn-win situation.

Sen. Albert R. Wynn not only picked up the Democratic nomination in the 4th Congressional District -- he also won the chance to be reunited with his best legislative buddy.

Del. Thomas H. Hattery, the Mount Airy Democrat who scored a stunning upset in the 6th District by trouncing seven-term incumbent Rep. Beverly B. Byron Tuesday night, started in the House of Delegates with Mr. Wynn 10 years ago.

The two sat side by side on the Ways and Means Committee, the beginning of a fast friendship that continued even after Mr. Wynn, a Prince George's Democrat, moved to the Senate in 1987.

"We had to do this to get back together," Mr. Hattery said of Tuesday's victories.

"We came in together, sat together, came to be best of friends -- he's probably my closest friend down here," Mr. Wynn said. "We're best buddies, back together again."

Well, not yet. Mr. Wynn's close primary victory in the new 4th District, drawn to ensure the election of a black legislator from the heavily Democratic, Washington suburbs of Prince George's and Montgomery counties, virtually guarantees a congressional seat.

But Mr. Hattery's victory in the 6th District is not assured. The moderate Democrat, a dairy farmer and businessman, is likely to face Roscoe Bartlett, a college professor and part-time inventor who leads in a close GOP primary.

Yesterday, however, the campaigns were on hold. It was a day of celebration for the two friends and their colleagues, who basked in the reflected glow.

"This is great, I know you're on cloud nine," Mr. Wynn told Mr. Hattery after the Senate recessed yesterday morning.

It was the first conversation the two friends had been able to have for some time. Mr. Wynn, 40, has been virtually absent from the Senate for the past two weeks. Mr. Hattery, 38, also has been splitting his time between his State House duties and his campaign.

But once the voters decided to nominate him, Mr. Wynn decided it was safe to return to Annapolis. Yesterday, his usually empty chair in the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee was filled -- not only with his notable bulk but also with a balloon bouquet from a well-wisher.

He received two standing ovations on the Senate floor and was lauded in several flowery speeches.

"You're going to make a large presence in Washington," said Mr. Wynn's seatmate, Sen. Michael J. Collins of Baltimore County. "If you don't keep the sugar wafers and peanut butter crackers out of the desk, you're going to make an even larger presence."

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