Miller hailed as he wins 4th term leading Senate President: Fellow Democrats heap praise on the Prince George's Democrat, whose fund-raising know-how is credited with their keeping a strong majority in the Senate.

The Political Game

December 08, 1998|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF

THOMAS V. MIKE Miller did not just win re-election to an unprecedented fourth straight term as state Senate president last week. He won a slew of new titles from grateful fellow Democrats.

Baltimore County Sen. Thomas L. Bromwell, chairman of the Finance Committee, hailed Miller as "our general in the last election" -- in which the Senate president's fund-raising muscle helped maintain the Senate's filibuster-proof 32-15 Democratic majority.

Baltimore's Sen. Barbara A. Hoffman, chairwoman of the Budget and Taxation Committee, observed that for many members of the Democratic caucus, Miller is "president for life."

But it was Majority Leader Clarence W. Blount who gave the most compelling description of the Prince George's County Democrat: "our godfather-confessor."

After his unanimous victory, "Don Mike" exhorted Democrats not to let up on their fund-raising efforts over the next four years. He urged each of them to put at least $40,000 in their campaign treasuries by the beginning of the next election year.

"I'm an old Boy Scout, and I believe in being prepared," he said.

Miller, who came under severe criticism from Republicans for forming a slate of Democratic senators to share funds, had no apologies for that artful dodging of the legal limits on fund transfers between campaigns. He said that was needed to respond to a Republican plan to take away nine Democratic seats.

"It was used for the good of the body, and it was used very wisely," Miller said.

It was also used thoroughly. As of the first post-election campaign finance report, the slate had spent $653,300 -- with $861.95 left in the bank.

DeGrange inherits seat on spending committee

Harford County's loss of budgetary power was Anne Arundel County's gain as Miller passed out Senate committee assignments last week.

Newly elected Anne Arundel Sen. James E. DeGrange, the only Democrat to knock off a Republican incumbent Nov. 3, inherited the seat on the powerful Budget and Taxation Committee formerly held by Harford Democratic Sen. Donald C. Fry, who lost his re-election bid.

The Budget and Taxation Committee is the Senate's most coveted assignment -- largely because it controls spending on the type of local projects that can help a senator's re-election prospects.

DeGrange's appointment means Anne Arundel will have two seats on the panel, while Harford will have none. Coincidentally, Harford gave the Republicans two key Senate victories.

As expected, Lower Shore Sen. J. Lowell Stoltzfus inherited the Republican seat on the committee formerly held by Baltimore County Sen. F. Vernon Boozer, who was defeated in the GOP primary.

Baltimore County's interests will presumably be represented by Hoffman and Democratic Sen. Edward J. Kasemeyer, whose districts lie partly in the county.

Miller made no changes in the top ranks of the Senate. All four standing committee chairs were reappointed.

Women, blacks are added to core leadership of House

As part of an elaborate balancing act, Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. moved yesterday to increase the influence of women and African-Americans in the House of Delegates.

The Cumberland Democrat added diversity to his leadership team by expanding the core group that guides the internal workings of the House.

Among other moves, Taylor created the new position of deputy speaker pro tem and gave it to Del. Ann Marie Doory of Northeast Baltimore. In a departure from the usual practice, Doory will be allowed to keep her vice chairmanship of the House Judiciary Committee.

Also added to the leadership circle is the House co-chairman of ** the Joint Legislative Ethics Committee, a post now held by Baltimore Del. Kenneth C. Montague.

Montague's new role, with the election of Del. Carolyn J. B. Howard of Prince George's County as chair of the House Democratic Caucus, will give African-Americans two additional seats at the table when the leadership group meets.

Taylor also announced he would name Baltimore Del. Samuel I. Rosenberg as House co-chairman of the Joint Audit Committee, making him a member of the Democratic leadership.

In a news release, Taylor boasted that the leadership group reflects the fact that women make up 33 percent of the House of Delegates.

Pub Date: 12/08/98

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