Baltimore's New Leverage

November 22, 1994

Because of redistricting, Baltimore is going to send to Annapolis one fewer senator and four fewer delegates. Yet the city's voters -- by towing the Democratic line while other jurisdictions voted out a number of veterans in favor of Republican newcomers -- are in an enviable position: Their delegation possesses both seniority and legislative expertise, which will be in short supply in Annapolis next year.

Consider the case of Sen. Barbara Hoffman, of the new city-county 42nd District. Because of Republican upsets, she seems assured of running the powerful Budget and Taxation Committee if Sen. Mike Miller returns as president.

With city Del. Howard P. Rawlings continuing his appropriations chairmanship in the House, those two city-based politicians will be in pivotal positions to pull purse strings to help the city. They also will have the assistance of the much-respected Sen. Clarence Blount in leadership.

The power of these positions is further increased because unusually high turnover in the General Assembly has greatly reduced the number of veteran leaders from other jurisdictions. The defeat of Del. Kenneth H. Masters, for example, cost Baltimore County a 15-year veteran who was House majority leader. Even greater was the Democratic loss in Prince George's County, the home base of Gov.-elect Parris Glendening. Because of retirement, three powerful Democrats will not be returning: Sen. Thomas P. O'Reilly and Dels. Gary P. Alexander and Timothy F. Maloney. All three held major committee assignments.

Thus, a smaller city delegation will have the tools to leverage the city's position far more than in past years. The challenge for Baltimore's urban legislators is to work out a pragmatic alliance with their colleagues from Montgomery and Prince George's counties, the other two strongholds of Mr. Glendening.

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