It's time for giving to lawmakers

The Political Game

Contributions: With fund raising banned during the General Assembly session, the weeks before legislators convene in Annapolis have become important for raising big money.

November 16, 1999|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,SUN STAFF

SHOPPERS MIGHT have only 39 days left before Christmas, but state political figures have 57 days left to give.

Under Maryland law, fund raising by state elected officials must stop during the legislature's annual 90-day session, which begins Jan. 12.

The law was passed to stop the spectacle of lawmakers holding midsession fund-raisers in Annapolis, which were attended mainly by the same lobbyists who were trying to influence votes on pending legislation.

With those 90 days crossed off the fund-raising calendar, this part of the fall has become one of the most important times for candidates to scrounge for money -- big money.

The Republican legislative caucus in Annapolis -- hoping to amass $1 million before the 2002 election -- raised $55,000 last week at a Baltimore event featuring Rep. John R. Kasich of Ohio.

Most of the crowd of 300 stuck around for Kasich's remarks, which occurred after 9 p.m. because of a late voting session in Washington.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller of Prince George's County also ventured to Baltimore last week to cajole lobbyists and others to make his huge Dec. 2 fund-raiser a success.

Many of the State House's top-earning lobbyists were at Miller's planning breakfast, as well as traditional Baltimore money men such as bakery owner John Paterakis Sr. and construction company owner Willard Hackerman.

But taking the prize for best fund raising in recent days was Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan.

At a Bethesda event Wednesday night, the blue-and-white campaign signs said "Duncan" and nothing more, but the intentional lack of specifics didn't deter several hundred people from contributing a reported $250,000.

Duncan, a Democrat in his second four-year term running the state's largest county, says he is exploring a gubernatorial campaign in 2002.

Among the attendees was Baltimore County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger, who is also exploring a bid for governor in three years -- among a field likely to include Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.

Unlike Duncan, Ruppersberger is prohibited from seeking another term in his current job and seems eager to remind Duncan of that.

"I'm termed out," Ruppersberger told The Sun's Candus Thomson. "It would be a shame if Doug and I had to run against each other, because we have similar agendas."

Also in attendance were Miller; Baltimore City Councilman Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr.; Eileen M. Rehrmann, the former Harford County executive who ran for governor last year; and former Anne Arundel County Executive John G. Gary, a Republican.

Don't count votes yet after defection of Neall

The defection to the Democrats last week of state Sen. Robert R. Neall of Anne Arundel County was no doubt a victory for the state's majority party. Neall is, to be sure, one of the General Assembly's brighter members, particularly in budget matters.

But based on his voting record, Neall will be on the far-right edge of the Senate's 33-member Democratic caucus.

Neall was one of 12 Republican senators who voted in April against a bill granting collective bargaining rights to state workers. All but one of the 32 Democrats voted for the bill. The 32nd Democrat, Sen. Walter M. Baker of Cecil County, did not vote.

On another high-profile issue, Neall was a ringleader of the filibuster that threatened to derail Gov. Parris N. Glendening's legislation to increase the state tax on cigarettes, which was backed by nearly all the Democrats in the Senate. At one point during the three-day filibuster, liberal Democratic senators angrily confronted Senate President Miller and accused him of not working hard enough to thwart the tactics of Neall and the others.

It will be interesting to see how Neall will mesh with his new, more liberal colleagues on such issues, now that they are members of the same big political family.

Goldstein statue moving ahead, with state blessing

Longtime Maryland Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein, who died in July 1998 after nearly 40 years in the job, is getting a statue -- at a cost to the taxpayers of $150,000.

The statue was debated in the fall when the idea was first broached by Robert L. Swann, Goldstein's longtime deputy who succeeded him for six months as comptroller. Swann wanted the statue quickly -- and without General Assembly approval -- but other state officials objected. They pointed out that Goldstein, a stickler for following appropriate processes, would not have been happy with Swann's corner-cutting.

Faced with such complaints, Swann slowed the process, and the legislature signed off on the project this year, approving the use of state funds for the memorial.

Officials also held a competition to select an artist, and sculptor Jay Hall Carpenter was selected to cast a bronze likeness of the man almost everyone called "Louie."

The statue will stand outside the Louis L. Goldstein Treasury Building, where Goldstein worked for decades. Carpenter's design depicts Goldstein smiling, his right hand holding one of his trademark gold coins -- which he handed out by the tens of thousands -- with the words, "God bless you all real good."

Goldstein will join a rather small number of Marylanders who have had their likenesses placed on the grounds of the State House complex -- with the two best known being former Supreme Court Justices Roger B. Taney and Thurgood Marshall.

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