Kopp to pay the price of failure

THE POLITICAL GAME

December 16, 1992|By C. Fraser Smith | C. Fraser Smith,Staff Writer

Recession victims are everywhere, even in the Maryland House of Delegates.

House Speaker Pro Tem Nancy Kopp says budget-balancing pressures in the General Assembly were a factor in her decision to attempt a coup against House Speaker R. Clayton Mitchell Jr. The strike failed -- and Ms. Kopp is about to lose her position as second in command.

She explained her motivation yesterday to the House Women's Caucus, with Mr. Mitchell at her side. "The open, participatory process to which I was totally committed was eroded by the pressure," she said.

When others who were unhappy with Mr. Mitchell's "command style" approached her, she decided to act. Mr. Mitchell's style, she and others have said, was a pole apart from the democratic ideal. That concern predates the recession.

Mr. Mitchell agreed that economic pressures changed the tenor of business in the House and said he would attempt to adjust. He thanked Ms. Kopp for her "generous" concession of defeat and said he would ask for her thoughts in the future.

Del. Marsha Perry, D-Anne Arundel, said it sounds like "a separation, no divorce, and a reconciliation." So why must Ms. Kopp lose her post?

"Why is it necessary for us to lose our one leader?" she asked. "Why does the loser have to be banished?"

"There's a price to pay," Mr. Mitchell replied. "It's a part of the political process."

Sorry, Mrs. Bentley

The Maryland Republican Party has voted to push term limitations for elected public officials, taking a shot at Democrats and a GOP leader in the process.

"I want to be able to tell the voters of Prince George's, Howard and Anne Arundel counties, all of whom voted for term limits last November, that the Maryland Republican Party will fight to introduce term limits in the General Assembly," said party chair Joyce Terhes.

The resolution for a maximum of 12 years in office for state and federal legislators is "a step toward putting an end to the arrogance of the Democrat power brokers," she said.

The vote also stepped on GOP power broker, Rep. Helen Delich Bentley, who is the state Republican Party's national committeewoman. The 2nd District Republican opposed term limits for elected public officials last year -- and persuaded many party members to her position.

But over the weekend at a party conclave in Solomons, Mrs. Bentley's views were pushed aside by what Ms. Terhes called a "wide majority."

A $250,000 salute

On the Harbor Court Hotel's spiral staircase, a dozen violinists in formal attire played as guests arrived.

Garlands of seasonal greenery and other festive decorations, including a Democratic donkey carved in ice, set the mood for Thomas V. Mike Miller's 50th birthday gala.

Senate President Miller was back in Baltimore for a number of purposes, including the nourishment of his campaign treasury.

Some 1,000 businessmen and women, legislators, lobbyists and other luminaries paid $250 to sing "Happy Birthday" and sip holiday cheer on Monday night with a man whose views are important to them when their entrepreneurial pursuits come before the legislature.

Except for Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, D-5th, everyone avoided recalling publicly Mr. Miller's last fund-raising venture in Baltimore. He raised a similar amount of cash. But in an unguarded moment -- with TV cameras rolling -- Mr. Miller made a disparaging remark about the city. The comment has since been repeated, and often with the suggestion that it couldn't have helped with any aspirations he might have to higher, statewide office.

"He could run for attorney general. He could run for lieutenant governor. He could run for just about anything," said Mr. Hoyer, who dutifully reported the remark to Monday's crowd.

Mr. Miller has been mentioned in connection with both of these offices and others.

"My last appearance in Baltimore was a smash," Mr. Miller said.

This time the senator was determined to show he could get it right. Turning aside suggestions about sites in Prince George's County, he insisted on Baltimore.

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke gave him two books, including an illustrated tour of Baltimore, and thanked him "for all you do."

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