A small fumble for Townsend at Super Bowl

The Political Game

Focus: Gaining the spotlight in a media frenzy isn't easy.

January 30, 2001|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,SUN STAFF

LT. GOV. KATHLEEN Kennedy Townsend must have grown just a bit envious of Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley lately.

First came a poll showing O'Malley achieving high popularity ratings, numbers that seemingly make him the only Democratic politician capable of disrupting her march to the governor's office next year.

Then came all the Super Bowl media frenzy that often focused a flattering spotlight on O'Malley. You know, the "struggling city on the rebound with the new mayor" angle and all that.

Tuesday was a particularly good day for the baby-faced mayor, as he blitzed the national media and New York television stations.

The next day, an aide to Townsend stopped by to ask reporters if perhaps they'd like to talk to the lieutenant governor, too, about the Super Bowl's impact not just on Baltimore, but on the entire state.

Hmmmm. We'll get back to you on that one.

But, sure enough there was Townsend in Tampa, Fla., popping up on the local news after the game Sunday night talking some pigskin. Or maybe that should be horseskin.

Asked what her favorite play had been, the lieutenant governor from the family that nearly made touch football the national pastime, cheerily replied: "I loved it when we made that football," she said. "The Giants had just made a football, and we came right back."

Ouch.

Asked about the misstatement, Alan Fleischmann, Townsend's chief of staff, said the intense noise on the field right after the game made it hard to hear. "She knows football better than anyone I know," Fleischmann said. "This is a woman who loves football."

Bush inauguration finds Schaefer in the wings

Comptroller William Donald Schaefer continues to amaze.

First, there he was at the inauguration of President Bush.

It was no big surprise, given that Schaefer, the lifelong Democrat, famously abandoned Bill Clinton and endorsed Bush's father, former President Bush, when he ran for re-election in 1992.

Naturally, Schaefer couldn't just go to the inaugural. He had to rhapsodize about it last Wednesday at the Board of Public Works meeting, as his nemesis, Gov. Parris N. Glendening - a major supporter of Bush's vanquished opponent, Al Gore - listened.

After his upbeat remarks about Bush, Schaefer displayed unusual annoyance as he tried unsuccessfully to stop state approval of the demolition of Memorial Stadium.

Schaefer spewed vitriol around the room - at a deputy budget secretary, state legislators who had the audacity to oppose him and Treasurer Richard N. Dixon. According to some witnesses, Schaefer even hissed at Glendening, his favorite punching bag, to "shut up" when the governor admonished Schaefer.

By Saturday, Schaefer was far more placid as he soaked up congratulations on a sports radio program for his key role in the Camden Yards stadium complex - which led directly to the Ravens' decision to come to Baltimore.

The fact that the show's hosts kept referring to him as "Governor" surely did nothing to hurt Schaefer's mood.

Governor is scolded for annual `beg-a-thon'

As for the current governor, one state legislator has laid into Glendening for his behavior at the annual "beg-a-thon."

That is the informal name for the Board of Public Works' meeting during which lawmakers, local council members and school board officials are forced to troop to Annapolis and essentially grovel at the feet of the governor for money to build schoolhouses back home.

At last Wednesday's meeting, Glendening wondered aloud where Sen. Richard F. Colburn, an Eastern Shore Republican, was when it came time for Caroline County officials to make their case for school-construction aid.

Glendening has routinely chided Colburn and other conservatives for seeking funds for schools in their area, only to turn around and vote against the state budget.

Colburn sent the governor a sharply worded letter the next day explaining his absence from last week's "beg-a-thon."

"I stayed away because I believe your petty actions at this annual gathering are an embarrassment to Maryland and belittle the stature of the office which you hold," Colburn wrote.

"I, along with many of my colleagues, find the process demeaning and disingenuous. .... I really believe that it is counter-productive for you to take every opportunity to publicly embarrass those who oppose your agenda."

A brief dose of reality amid Ravens festivities

Plans are already in place to bring some of the Ravens to Annapolis to rub shoulder pads with state lawmakers.

The General Assembly, after all, loves winners. Every other day or so, some championship high school team parades through.

The Super Bowl champions are now scheduled to make an appearance at the State House Feb. 20.

By last Friday, just about everybody around the capitol was swooning from Ravens fever. But not the folks at the Gazette, the Montgomery County newspaper.

Its Friday edition featured this front-page headline: "Baltimore's losing battle ... Drug addiction and despair have crippled the city, and there's no solution in sight."

Wait a minute. You mean our young mayor and the Ravens can't cure the drug problem?

Double ouch.

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