Young, Cummings deny any deal "Outraged": State senator denounces a report of an agreement to assist his bid for chairmanship of the Legislative Black Caucus.

The Political Game

April 16, 1996|By William F. Zorzi Jr. | William F. Zorzi Jr.,SUN STAFF

STATE SEN. Larry Young phoned, "outraged" over a report in this space last week that a deal had been cut to assist his bid for chairmanship of the Legislative Black Caucus.

Mr. Young called "absolutely not true" your correspondent's linking the senator's win as caucus chairman to an agreement on the replacement in the General Assembly for Del. Elijah E. Cummings, if the latter is elected 7th District congressman in today's special election.

In fact, both legislators called to say that Mr. Young had launched his campaign for chairman three months ago and had lined up votes for it before Mr. Cummings, the House speaker pro tem, won the congressional primary for Kweisi Mfume's 7th District seat last month.

Both Democrats said there was "no deal," though political insiders had said there was. According to the insiders, Mr. Cummings supported Mr. Young's caucus bid in return for the senator's agreeing to a compromise candidate as the next delegate from the 44th Legislative District.

But Mr. Cummings emphatically denied that.

"There was never, ever, any connection between any candidate for my seat and his becoming chairman of the Black Caucus -- no connection and no discussion," he said.

"Larry had done his homework," another caucus member said. "He had the votes going in."

As for the 44th District replacement, Mr. Cummings would not discuss specifics as to which of a handful of possible candidates believed might succeed him in the 44th District, if he is elected to Congress, as expected.

Mr. Cummings had once supported Traci K. Miller, a 28-year-old city prosecutor who impressed many in the political establishment with her bid in the 27-candidate Democratic primary last month for Mr. Mfume's seat.

But as the story goes, Mr. Young, the 44th District leader, apparently said no and initiated a quiet, "anybody-but-Traci Miller" campaign among decision-makers in the district.

Last week, your correspondent reported that the compromise candidate in this process was Elaine R. McCloud, 42, a caterer and Democratic Central Committee member who once worked as a legislative aide to Mr. Cummings.

But Mr. Cummings says the field remains wide open.

He mentioned as a strong candidate Verna L. Jones, 40, a West Baltimore housing activist who lost a 1994 Democratic primary bid for a 44th District seat, but enjoys support from the community.

While Mr. Cummings said he would like to see a woman succeed him, he pointed out that Rodney Orange Sr., head of the Baltimore NAACP chapter, has expressed an interest and "would be a quality candidate."

Also, two other members of the central committee -- Jeffrey Paige and T. Michael Scales, a close associate of Mr. Young -- apparently are continuing to show their interest in the seat.

Mr. Cummings said he plans to put together a group of community and political leaders to interview candidates and then make a recommendation to the 44th District's Democratic Central Committee, which will vote on his successor.

Mr. Young, who ordinarily controls four of the committee's five votes (when those members aren't being adamant about being elected to the legislature themselves), has said he would like to do the same.

It is still unclear whether those interview processes will be one and the same, Mr. Cummings said.

Clinton raises $1 million for Democrats in visit

President Clinton dropped in on Baltimore and its environs for a few hours Wednesday and left with a cool $1 million for the Democratic National Committee.

Mr. Clinton rallied party loyalists at two DNC fund-raisers -- one, a $5,000-a-head reception at Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke's Ashburton home, and the second, a $15,000-a-ticket dinner at Caves Valley Country Club in Baltimore County.

The country club event, sponsored by the DNC's Democratic Business Council, was geared to picking up cash from the state's highest rollers -- "money to support party-building activity," said DNC spokesman David Seldin, once Gov. Parris N. Glendening's campaign press secretary.

"We think the president's going to do very well in Maryland in November," Mr. Seldin said.

Geez, it seems to some of us that he's doing very well now.

2 former candidates seek to snare new positions

In the "Where-are-they-now Department," a couple of the 27 Democrats who ran in the 7th District congressional primary last month have resurfaced.

Barney J. Wilson, 37, the Reisterstown landscaper and University of Baltimore business professor, acted as radio talk show host on WCBM-AM on Wednesday, trying out as a possible replacement to Tom Marr, the former host now in Philadelphia. Mr. Wilson covered a variety of topics, including the politics of the 7th Congressional District.

Meanwhile, Baltimore lawyer A. Dwight Pettit, 50, has asked the city judicial nominating commission to consider him for one of the coming vacancies on the city Circuit Court.

"Well, obviously, I couldn't go to Congress," Mr. Pettit said.

Pub Date: 4/16/96

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