Governor looks to future, and seems to see politics

April 15, 1994|By Sandy Banisky | Sandy Banisky,Sun Staff Writer Sun staff writer JoAnna Daemmrich contributed to this article.

Fishing poles? Rocking chairs? William Donald Schaefer looks at them and sneers.

From his State House office, Maryland's governor is surveying his future. And with nine months left in his term, constitutionally barred from succeeding himself, he's considering other jobs. Lots of them.

Over the last year, he's mused about running for what would be a fifth term as mayor of Baltimore. Monday, he was talking about a run for Baltimore City Council president, a job he also held previously, 1967 to 1971.

And there's more: His staff says he hears from people who want him to run for mayor of Ocean City (but not so long as Roland "Fish" Powell is in the job). A couple of weeks ago, he told some legislators he might run for the House of Delegates. He's even mentioned a run for a seat in the Baltimore City Council, where he started back in 1955.

Thank heaven, the restless governor owns homes in Ocean City, Baltimore and Anne Arundel County. Opens such possibilities.

"He's got lots of options," said state elections board chief Gene Raynor, a longtime friend of the governor. "He's 72 going on 40."

Pamela Kelly, one of Mr. Schaefer's closest aides, says she's urging him to teach courses on public policy, or to find a position with a foundation that specializes in urban issues.

Other friends want him to set up shop as a consultant on city policies. Page W. Boinest, Mr. Schaefer's press secretary, says he talks about "working on prevention programs, with kids who would otherwise end up in juvenile services." Some of his associates have even talked about arranging a place for him in the administration of Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, "as a trouble-shooter for the mayor, maybe a city manager-type job," Ms. Boinest said.

Mr. Raynor sees him as an aide to the next governor, working "to attract business to . . . Maryland. Schaefer's an expert on that. How about secretary of state, working on economic development?"

But Mr. Schaefer seems to keep coming back to his prospects for elective office. And his talk about the council presidency caught most political junkies by surprise.

Mr. Schaefer's interest in the council presidency seems to have been sparked Saturday, when he walked through some West Baltimore alleys with former City Council President Walter S. Orlinsky, who now heads a state tree-planting program.

The two had feuded famously through the 1970s and early 1980s. But last week they strolled together, surveying trash in the city streets, talking with community leaders, talking with one another so much more pleasantly than in the old days.

Can you go home again? Can you back to the City Council you left in 1971 for the mayor's office -- where you reputedly bent the council to your will?

"I just can't believe he's serious," said 3rd District Councilman Wilbur E. Cunningham. "It's hard to imagine going from the pinnacle of power to a secondary role."

"This is a typical Schaeferism -- a trial balloon, be it real or unreal," said 6th District Councilman Joseph J. DiBlasi. "This is the kind of thing that's like oxygen for him. Nothing he does would surprise me."

"If the governor wants to run, that's OK," said 2nd District Councilman Carl Stokes, an announced candidate for the presidency. But Mr. Stokes added that he could think of a few better jobs for the two-term governor. "If he could go out and find business and jobs for the city, he really has a talent for that."

Should Mr. Schaefer decide to run for council president, some say he might not find the job to his liking. "Things have changed so much in the city," Mr. Cunningham said. "When he was here before, the mayor controlled the council. He had [a controlling] 10 votes, and he got what he wanted. People on the council by and large were his peers. They were his age. They had come up with through politics with him. That's not so anymore. I don't think he would be so effective anymore."

Is he serious? "I don't know that anyone rushed out and rented a campaign headquarters," Ms. Boinest said.

And Ms. Kelly, Mr. Schaefer's aide, says she would bet that the governor won't be a candidate for any office. But don't bet on retirement, she said. "He's going to be around."

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