Intrigue, gossip with The Goob, The Mick, et al.

DAN RODRICKS

June 05, 1993|By DAN RODRICKS

Before I tell you about Mickey Steinberg's encounter with Neil Solomon at the Preakness Ball, you should know all the players in this little drama.

William Donald Schaefer is our loveable lame duck governor, a Gubernatorial Kinda Guy -- The Goob, for short.

Steinberg is the lame duck Lieutenant Goob who would like to run for Head Goob in 1994. Some call him Mickey, or The Mick, or The Mickster. I call him Padre Michino because he reminds me of a guy I once saw in a friary.

Solomon is the well-known physician, syndicated columnist, former state health secretary and present state drug-prevention czar, state AIDS czar and state health care reform czar. He's a three-czar general practitioner. Lately, Solomon has let it be known that he's "testing the waters" for a possible run for Goob.

Richard Rynd, another player in this story, is a member of the House of Delegates from Owings Mills, and he's a Big Pal of Mickey Steinberg.

So that's the lineup -- The Goob, The Mick, The Doc, The Pal.

They all figure in this story, which is as good a tale of political intrigue, gossip and sniping as you can find this far out from a primary.

So, about the Preakness Ball.

Before I get into it, you need to understand a few things.

Schaefer, of course, does not like Steinberg. In fact, The Goob would rather eat jellied tripe than spend any time with the lieutenant governor. He would love to see The Mick lose his bid to replace him as Goob.

By contrast, Schaefer likes Solomon. He probably wishes Doc were lieutenant governor. After all, he appointed him to just about everything else, including the drug czar post that Steinberg used to have.

See, until a couple of years ago, The Mick chaired the Governor's Commission on Drug and Alcohol Abuse. But The Goob dumped the Mick because he had grown jealous of all the good press The Mick was getting. He didn't like the lieutenant governor using the post to make himself better known throughout the state and thereby lay some groundwork for his gubernatorial campaign.

The Mick got the boot. The Doc replaced him.

So, anyway, about the Preakness Ball.

By the time of that event, word was out that Solomon was "testing the waters." At the ball, he runs into Steinberg. And Solomon starts talking about this running-for-governor thing and The Mick tells The Doc to . . . well, he wasn't very nice.

"It wasn't very cordial" was all I could get The Doc to say about the Preakness encounter.

However, The Doc shared a letter he received Preakness Week from The Pal, Delegate Rynd. It provides, shall we say, insight.

"Dear Neil," Rynd wrote. "I understand you have met recently with the governor on a number of occasions regarding your possible gubernatorial bid. I can understand why the governor would want you in the race. He probably believes that your entrance in the race will hurt Mickey. I can understand his feelings, but I can't understand why you would want to hurt Mickey. You are a physician -- not a political opportunist. We know you, expect more from you. The governor's problems with Mickey should not become yours.

"Everyone who is 'in the know' knows why you might be getting involved and who is asking you to do so. Just remember, when you are in politics, sometimes it gets mighty hot in the kitchen."

Whew!

So The Mick and The Pal think The Goob and The Doc are in cahoots to spoil things for The Mick.

I checked with Rynd yesterday and that's exactly what is suspected -- a Schaefer-inspired plot to give The Mick the shiv.

"Absolutely not true!" Solomon countered. "Absurd."

Has he discussed running for Goob with The Goob?

"Yes," The Doc said, "and I have discussed it with lots of other people." In particular, he says, with lots of friends who like the idea of supporting someone who, while active in public life, is not an elected politician cruising for higher office. Solomon sees himself as a Ross Perot-like outsider. If the money and grass-roots support is there, he told The Jewish Times, "I'd throw heart and soul into it."

But he's not running because a vindictive Schaefer told him to. The Doc is not trying to spoil things for Steinberg.

Over the last week, Solomon responded to Rynd's letter: "Your letter is a throwback to the days of political bossism when candidates were selected behind closed doors."

And Rynd responded to Solomon's letter: "Your letter did not include the fact that you went straight to the governor after receiving my letter, and cried on his shoulder. . . ."

That's enough intrigue, gossip and sniping for now. If this plot thickens, I'll let you know.

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