Julian Lapides: Mr. Outside considers new turf


January 19, 1994|By Robert Timberg | Robert Timberg,Staff Writer

Last week's column noted that state Sen. Julian L. Lapides, effectively deprived of his political base through redistricting, might move to his mother-in-law's home in Mount Vernon. Actually, the home is in Mount Washington.

For 31 years, half his life, Julian L. Lapides has roamed the corridors of power in Annapolis, an outsider among insiders, a man rarely invited to the table where the real decisions are made and the marching orders issued.

With good reason. The Democratic senator from Bolton Hill has prospered in Annapolis because of wit, charm, intelligence and a talented proboscis. He could always smell a rat.


Over the years, he has become the scourge of the big-money lobbyists. He thinks of them the way Randy Newman described short people -- no reason to live.

One of his recent exercises in lobbyist bashing, a few years back, resulted in a measure he called the Lobbyists and Legislators Must Suffer Each Other's Presence bill.

It was a flanking attack on a curious variation on the ritualistic wining and dining of legislators here during the annual 90-day legislative session. In this case, though, the lobbyists may have been the victims.

According to Mr. Lapides, he introduced the bill after learning that a number of legislators were asking lobbyists for their credit cards so they could go to dinner with one or

more of their good friends -- absent the lobbyist.

His solution to what he portrayed as a blatant shakedown was to make the punishment fit the crime: The lobbyist had to join the legislator and his party if the lobbyist was picking up the tab.

Now, after three decades as an invaluable if occasionally predictable voice of outrage, Mr. Lapides

may soon be out of a job, his silk-stocking center-city district having been vaporized through the magic of legislative redistricting.

To add insult to injury, the heart of his district, Bolton Hill, a puny four electoral precincts, was split between two legislative districts, diluting the political influence of one of the few pockets of affluent voters committed to urban living.

As a result of redistricting, where there had once been five legislative districts, there are now four. Mr. Lapides' Bolton Street home lies within the confines of a district presided over by Sen. Larry Young, a veteran black legislator. The voting age population is more than 80 percent black.

The remainder of the Lapides district has been parceled out to three other seemingly strong incumbents.

He has some options. His father-in-law, a Mount Vernon resident, died in October. His mother-in-law is in a nursing home. If he and his wife, Linda, move into the Mount Vernon house, he could challenge Sen. Barbara A. Hoffman, a friend whose district contains areas where Mr. Lapides has run well in the past.

In recent weeks, Jacqueline McLean's troubles have led him to consider running for city comptroller, a job whose specs include a well developed olfactory organ.

Bainum for governor?

Former Del. and state Sen. Stuart Bainum Jr., who poured $1.5 million -- much of it his own money -- into a futile 1986 effort to win a suburban Washington congressional seat, may soon become the fifth Democrat to enter the race for the party's gubernatorial nomination.

Mr. Bainum, chairman and CEO of Manor Care Inc., a Silver Spring-based nursing home, health care and lodging company, has been quietly polling voters in an effort to determine his chances.

If the survey results are favorable, look to Mr. Bainum to surface publicly within the next few weeks with the announcement of an exploratory committee.

A stitch in time

It was a grand occasion for Casper R. Taylor Jr. last Wednesday. Moments before, he had been elected speaker of the House of Delegates. Now Gary Alexander, speaker pro tem, was introducing Mr. Taylor to the House. "Ladies and Gentlemen, Casper R. Speaker, the. . ."

Mr. Alexander caught himself before he finished the sentence and introduced the new speaker as "the Taylor of the House."

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