Democrats find neutral dinner host

May 09, 1994|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Sun Staff Writer

A shortage of manpower, and some say regional politics, nearly pre-empted the Democrats' annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, first organized 20 years ago to dispel the perception of a geographic split in the party.

With nearly a third of its members running for higher office, the county Democratic Central Committee decided in December that it didn't have time to organize the gala, said central committee member Kim McCoy.

Then the resurgent Severna Park Democratic Club stepped forward this spring and offered to co-sponsor the dinner, which has become a place for candidates to be seen and party officials to mend fences.

The Severna Park club, formerly called the 6b Democratic Club, a name that referred to the former County Council district, provided more than just manpower, said President Ed Doyas. It offered North and South County Democrats, divided over issues such as the proposed Glen Burnie jail, a neutral site.

"To me, [the central committee's decision in December] was just one more part of the split," Mr. Doyas said. "The South didn't want to go to a dinner in the North, and the North didn't want to go to a dinner in the South. Severna Park always gets caught between the two."

Ms. McCoy and other central committee members denied a North-South split had anything to do with the committee's decision in December. She noted the committee is planning an old-fashioned political rally before the September primary.

But she acknowledged a long-standing rivalry between Democrats in each region and said that was one reason why this year's dinner is in Severna Park.

"One of our goals over the past four years has been to get the [Democratic] clubs more involved," Ms. McCoy said. "But we've run into territorial problems."

When the committee needed help with the dinner, "we turned to Severna Park because it is neutral territory," she said.

It also happens to be a Republican stronghold, where registered GOP voters outnumber Democrats by more than 2-1. That fact is not lost upon Ms. McCoy. "That's another reason we chose it. We want to send a message to the Democrats in Severna Park. That they're not forgotten."

The Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, named after presidents Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson, is planned for 6:30 p.m. June 8 at the Chartwell Country Club. Maryland House of Delegates Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller will be guest speakers.

The Republican Central Committee has a Lincoln Day Dinner each winter.

County Councilman David Boschert, a Crownsville Democrat, helped organize the first Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in 1975 at Snyder's Willow Grove Restaurant in Linthicum.

"I was really disappointed when I heard we might not have it [this year]," Mr. Boschert said. "A rally is just a mob scene having a good time. I would much rather have a dinner."

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