Stoning the B'hoys From Glass Houses

COMMENT

August 28, 1994|By ELISE ARMACOST

Who are the "good old boys," anyway?

We have them in Annapolis. We have them in Pasadena. They've infiltrated Glen Burnie and Crofton. The courthouse, praise be, is finally free of them -- so the Republicans would have us believe.

GOP candidates from all over Anne Arundel County are waging a war against these low-down vermin who they say have infested county and state government.

Oh, they're a scurvy lot. They appoint their friends. They look out for each other. They're oily wheels in the Democratic political machine.

"Remember," said Clerk of the Court Mary Rose at a June GOP rally, "we are fighting the old boys."

Who, exactly?

Deputy Clerk of the Court Robert Duckworth says Mrs. Rose's predecessor, H. Erle Schafer, was a good old boy. Before the Rose era, "This was a place where the good old boys had a good old patronage system and nothing was getting done."

Funny thing, though. As soon as Mrs. Rose got elected she cleaned out the courthouse . . . and stocked it full of her Republican friends. That's how Mr. Duckworth -- who, incidentally, is running for Clerk of the Court while his boss seeks a state Senate seat -- got his job.

Republican County Council Chairman and District 32 state Senate hopeful Ed Middlebrooks says his opponent, Sen. Mike Wagner, is a good old boy. "He wants to be the granddaddy of the county," he says.

Mr. Wagner appoints his supporters as liquor inspectors, Mr. Middlebrooks points out. He recruits people he likes and tries to help them move up through the party. He smokes a cigar.

Funny thing, though. Mr. Middlebrooks, too, is recruiting people he likes and is trying to help them get elected. After all, that's partly how he has moved up. During his days as a Democrat, Mr. Middlebrooks scaled the ranks with the help of Erle Schafer. During his new life as a Republican, he's enjoying support from state's attorney candidate John Greiber, Sheriff Robert Pepersack, Del. John Gary and Mrs. Rose.

I wonder if he thinks of them as good old boys.

hTC District 31 House of Delegates candidates Doug Arnold, David Blanch and Vickie Schade, who are running as a ticket, say Sen. Philip Jimeno and delegates Joan Cadden, Ray Huff and Stokes Kolodziejski are good old boys. Recently, they blasted the District 31 delegation for using taxpayers' money to produce a mailing summarizing the General Assembly's accomplishments, but with their pictures on it. "It is time these good old boys become accountable to the people!" they said.

"We will not go to Annapolis to 'go along to get along' or to scratch others' backs in order to get ours scratched," another piece of campaign literature proclaims.

Funny thing, though. Mr. Arnold holds his current job as court budget officer thanks to Mrs. Rose; she appointed him.

Mrs. Rose told a reporter in June she doesn't mean to attack all Democrats, "just the liberal Democrats, the old-boy-type Democrat."

I guess that includes Del. John Astle, since she is running against him for the state Senate.

Funny thing, though. John Astle is liberal the way Jack Cade is thin. In fact, his philosophy and voting record are so moderate that Mr. Greiber, Mr. Gary and other county GOP leaders recently tried to recruit him to their party.

In District 32, House of Delegates candidate Ed Priola's campaign revolves around the unseating of "political dinosaurs," good old boys. He has achieved minor fame by standing alongside the road with a 5 1/2 -foot inflatable dinosaur dubbed, "Demo," which doesn't stand for Republican. "We've been dominated by political dinosaurs for too long," he says -- a theme echoed by Mr. Middlebrooks and other District 32 candidates.

"It's time for a change. They [the incumbents] haven't done enough," Mr. Middlebrooks said at a recent candidates' forum in Odenton.

Funny thing, with the exception of Mr. Wagner, no one in District 32 has served more than one term. Del. Victor Sulin is just finishing his first four years, and delegates Mary Ann Love and Ted Sophocleus (who's leaving his seat to run for county executive) were appointed to fill vacancies little more than a year ago -- hardly Jurassic specimens.

Seems like "good old boys" don't have to be old; they just have to Democrats.

Funny thing, though. The Republicans, once they have vanquished these scoundrels, start to look an awful lot like them.

Elise Armacost is The Baltimore Sun's editorial writer in Anne Arundel County.

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