Waning weeks of the General Assembly session, Sen...

IN THE

April 19, 1994

IN THE waning weeks of the General Assembly session, Sen. Walter Baker half-heartedly tried to introduce a bill to let Eastern Shore voters decide whether they want to secede from Maryland. Not everyone took the idea lightly. The bill touched a nerve.

The Eastern Shore has traditionally been scoffed at by some living west of the Chesapeake, who have viewed those on the Shore as reactionaries and rednecks. Remember Gov. William Donald Schaefer's X-rated comment about the Shore's backward condition? Or his amended comments in which he called Shore residents "clannish" and "strange"?

The relationship between the two shores still resembles the relationship between the Union and the Confederacy during the Civil War. The built-up Western Shore historically has looked down on the rural, agricultural Eastern Shore.

The Eastern Shore has never felt a part of Maryland. Even when the state was created, the two shores had separate treasuries and courts.

Shore residents still feel disenfranchised. While their tax dollars go to build urban subways, they feel their own important issues are overlooked. The Shore's conservative politics follow one rule -- keep the government out of people's lives. Die-hard Shore denizens want Annapolis out of theirs forever.

Views on such issues as gun control and the death penalty differ markedly depending on which side of the bay you live.

Is this split irreconcilable? A good marriage counselor might be needed.

But if mediation fails, maybe the Shore folks would have better luck with Delaware. The Eastern Shore and Delaware could pick up the two Virginia counties east of the bay and create a state out of the peninsula. This would make geographical sense, at least. Delmarva could apply to become the 51st state, or even declare independence as a separate country.

Surely Walter Baker would be a shoo-in as that country's first president and Founding Father.

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