A fresh dawn awakens some strange bedfellows Unlikely allies: Now that the sun has set on the contentious legislative session, a number of politicians are keeping their eyes and options wide open.

The Political Game

April 30, 1996|By William F. Zorzi Jr. | William F. Zorzi Jr.,SUN STAFF

MY, MY, MY, as former 7th District congressional candidate Frank M. Reid III would say. Consider these heretofore unheard-of alliances: The Maryland House speaker from Allegany County is the host of a fund-raiser for his Appropriations Committee chairman from Baltimore, where the keynote speaker is the Montgomery County executive.

That's right. Two weeks after the legislative session ended, Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. sent out a fund-raising letter for Del. Howard P. "Pete" Rawlings, the city legislator who chairs the powerful House budget committee.

Billing the $50-a-plate breakfast May 23 as "one of the most interesting political events of the year," Mr. Speaker invited "Friends of Pete Rawlings" to hear County Executive Douglas M. Duncan answer the question, "Montgomery County/Baltimore City -- Can We Get Along?"

Even Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, who has been warring with Mr. Rawlings over freezing city education funding, is expected to make a few remarks.

In the words of one solicited soul, "it's like the Berlin Wall coming down."

"There's been a serious geo-political shift in this state, and we have to recognize it," Mr. Rawlings said. "It's in Baltimore City's best interest to have a much better relationship with the Washington suburban counties."

Mr. Taylor credits Mr. Rawlings and Mr. Duncan with helping to overcome regional differences in "one of the most contentious sessions in recent memory."

The speaker describes Mr. Duncan -- who has gotten noticed by Democrats statewide, though in only his second year as executive -- as "one of the people who will play an important role in moving toward" a "statewide consensus on solutions" to problems facing Maryland.

Indeed.

It is still too early to read the tea leaves for 1998, but as the executive of a vote-rich county that is sure to be the battleground in any governor's race, Mr. Duncan will figure heavily into future political equations.

Mr. Duncan, who like Mr. Taylor has gubernatorial aspirations, has been quite visible in Annapolis (unlike his predecessors) and has gotten himself known on this end of the state through tight relationships with the likes of Baltimore County Executive Dutch C. A. Ruppersberger III (another State House hopeful).

It's all certainly enough to make a sitting first-term governor who's looking ahead to keep glancing over his shoulder.

University ladles honor on pork-barrel potentate

For years, one of the jokes in Annapolis was that Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. would have something -- a stadium or field house -- named after him at the University of Maryland College Park before he gets to preside over that great Senate chamber in the sky.

But it seems that Del. Howard P. Rawlings, the king of pork barrel on the House side of the aisle, beat him to it last week. Mr. Rawlings joined a rather small fraternity of living officials after whom structures and parks have been named (the flurry of Gov. William Donald Schaefer souvenirs notwithstanding).

On Friday, Morgan State University dedicated the Howard P. Rawlings Residence and Dining Facility -- a mid-rise structure off Argonne Drive that houses 200 beds and can seat 930 students at a time in the dining hall. It is next to the Clarence W. Blount Towers, a student residence named for the quite-living Senate majority leader from Baltimore.

"It's towering over the Rawlings Building, but the senators always have the better end of the deal," Mr. Rawlings said.

Fred Douglass, spokesman for the university, said the decision to name the building after Mr. Rawlings, a Morgan alumnus, was made by the school's board of regents "in recognition of the work he's done on behalf of the university over the years."

Springtime provides springboard for Sauerbrey

Ellen R. Sauerbrey, the unsuccessful GOP candidate for governor in 1994, is another pol looking ahead to 1998.

Mrs. Sauerbrey has a $1,000-a-head fund-raiser scheduled this weekend, courtesy of Richard E. Hug, the chairman of Environmental Elements Corp. and a longtime supporter.

"Springtime on the Magothy" -- presumably a precursor to what the GOP would like to see as "Autumn on the Severn" in November 1998 -- is scheduled Sunday at Mr. Hug's home outside Annapolis.

"There are no formal announcements right now," Mrs. Sauerbrey said when asked about her plans.

But there is little doubt that the former House minority leader from Baltimore County will run again for governor.

Pub Date: 4/30/96

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