For a guy who says he doesn't play politics, Baltimore County Executive Roger B. Hayden, a Republican, has made a very unusual move.
He fired a veteran county liquor inspector who is campaign coordinator for Council Chairman Charles A. Dutch Ruppersberger, a Democrat and potential challenger in next year's elections.
The replacement is a close political ally of Essex Delegate E. Farrell Maddox, another Democrat whose supporters' votes may crucial in the 1994 contest.
Robert Barrett, a part-time liquor inspector since 1987, learned of his firing Friday. A four-sentence letter thanked him for his work and notified him that "your position is one of many where a decision has been made for a change."
Mr. Barrett, who lives in Glyndon, is the only one of 14 county liquor inspectors replaced. The inspectors, all political appointees, make $9,000 a year, plus expenses.
Mr. Barrett said he saw the firing as a political move to remove a rival's operative from county employment.
Mr. Hayden refused to explain the firing.
"We just thought that a change made sense," he said yesterday. He also refused to say if he planned any other moves.
Simon Jarosinski, Mr. Ruppersberger's campaign treasurer, is an alternate liquor board member. His term expired Nov. 6. He said he has not been reappointed or replaced.
George Bowler, a retired autoworker, president of the 15th District Democratic Club in Essex and a frequent unsuccessful candidate for public office, is to replace Mr. Barrett. Delegate Maddox, who chairs the county's house delegation, said he has tried to get Mr. Bowler "something" for years.
"George and I are very close," Mr. Maddox said, adding that when he heard Mr. Barrett was going to be fired, he asked if Mr. Bowler could have the position. "I don't like to see any Democrat run out. . . . But I can understand Roger's feelings. . . . That's part of what comes with politics."
Mr. Ruppersberger seemed annoyed about the firing.
"If Roger Hayden would spend more time creating jobs or fighting crime, instead of worrying about who is running against him, Baltimore County would be a lot better off," he said.
So far, no prominent Democrat from the east side is exploring the race for the county executive's job. That could put the area's mostly conservative, blue-collar Democratic votes up for grabs in the 1994 general election.
Mr. Hayden has made overtures to east side Democrats. His $15 per ticket political "Friendraiser" at Dundalk Marine Terminal on Sunday drew hundreds of registered Democrats. The event was designed to strengthen support, not to raise money, he said.
Mr. Ruppersberger is the only prominent Democrat actively developing a campaign for county executive.
Councilman Melvin G. Mintz, who represents Pikesville, and State Sen. Nancy Murphy, who represents the Arbutus area, are considering the race. District Judge John C. Coolahan, a former state senator from the west side, also could decide to run.
In the 1990 election, Mr. Hayden, a former Dundalk-area Democrat, soundly beat Dennis F. Rasmussen.