Doctors hire high-powered lobbyist

THE POLITICAL GAME

August 18, 1993|By C. Fraser Smith | C. Fraser Smith,Staff Writer

With the health care war intensifying at every level, Maryland's doctors have moved once again to bolster their lobbying corps in Annapolis.

Always among the most powerful and well-financed of Maryland's interest groups, the 6,000-member state medical association -- known officially as the Medical and Chirurgical Faculty -- announced yesterday that it has added Joseph A. "Jay" Schwartz III to its team.

A Baltimore lawyer, Mr. Schwartz is a graduate of Notre Dame and the University of Virginia Law School. He has consistently ranked as one of the highest-paid lobbyists working before the General Assembly.

Potentially helpful from the doctors' viewpoint is Mr. Schwartz's longtime friendship with Del. Casper R. Taylor Jr., D-Allegany, chairman of the Economic Matters Committee and one of the health care reform movement leaders in Annapolis.

Last year, MedChi hired former Gov. Marvin Mandel, a man who had done only minimal formal lobbying but one whose enduring connections in the executive and legislative branches of government made him seem formidable.

Things did not work out as well last year as the doctors might have hoped.

MedChi and Mr. Mandel were criticized for moving too slowly to assert the doctors' viewpoint on the session's landmark health care reform bill.

MedChi's executive director, Angelo J. Troisi, insisted yesterday that the organization did as well as it could have under the circumstances -- and retains every confidence in Mr. Mandel.

"There were people who did not see the governor working as hard as he was," Mr. Troisi says. "He's just not the sort of lobbyist who runs around grabbing the shirtsleeves of legislators."

Mr. Troisi acknowledged that MedChi opposed aspects of the reform bill, notably creation of a powerful new commission with authority to cap physician fees.

Now comes Mr. Schwartz, who will be the organization's lead lobbyist.

He is being hired, Mr. Troisi says, simply because "there's more work to do." Mr. Mandel will remain on the team.

Ticket talk in the GOP

To the continuing saga of the Maryland Republican Party's search for a winning ticket in 1994, now add this chapter.

Could-be candidate for governor, U.S. Rep. Helen Delich Bentley, wants Robert R. Neall, the Anne Arundel County executive, to be her lieutenant governor running mate.

Mr. Neall, who looks more and more like a candidate for governor himself, said no, but negotiations were continuing.

While some in the GOP thought the 2nd District congresswoman's offer was amusing, others thought it had some potential. Coming from Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties, a Bentley-Neall team could lay claim to what one GOP insider calls "some serious suburban base."

Mr. Neall, a former member of the House of Delegates, would add knowledge of Annapolis and knowledge of governmental budget-making to Mrs. Bentley's drive and flair.

But neither has the personality or style that would lend itself comfortably to the role of second political banana.

Mr. Neall's rejection of Mrs. Bentley's overture cannot be regarded as a plus as she continues to search for political and financial support. Republican Party sources continue to speculate that she will eventually eschew a race for governor and run for re-election to Congress.

Mr. Neall's own interest in running for governor, meanwhile, appears to be gathering force and focus. He may have some announcements about his plans during a fund-raiser next month -- probably the formation of an exploratory committee.

Once almost out of the contest, Mr. Neall by entering it would bring at least a three-person GOP primary contest: Del. Ellen R. Sauerbrey of Baltimore County says she is in -- and boasts of an 800-person, statewide volunteer force -- and so does William S. Shepard, the party's 1990 candidate.

Both Mrs. Bentley and Mr. Neall now take their precandidacy campaigns to Ocean City for the Maryland Association of Counties convention this week, where just about every candidate or potential candidate in either party will be meeting and greeting influential county officials.

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