Family matters in state politics

The Political Game

Kennedys: Two members of the famous clan are figuring in the state's 2002 elections.

March 13, 2001|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,SUN STAFF

COULD 2002 BE the year that not one, but two Kennedys take a step up the Maryland political ladder?

Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend - daughter of Bobby - is running for governor and is, at least for now, the front-runner.

And Del. Mark K. Shriver - son of Eunice and cousin of Kathleen - is weighing a run for Congress in Maryland's 8th District in Montgomery County.

Shriver, in his second four-year term representing Montgomery County in the House of Delegates, seems well on his way to jumping into the congressional race.

"I'm very, very seriously considering it," said Shriver, who is of course a Democrat.

Rep. Constance A. Morella, a moderate Republican, has held the seat for 12 years. But Montgomery County Democrats smell blood after Terry Lierman, the Democratic nominee, came within 6 percentage points of knocking her off last fall.

Lierman, a Capitol Hill lobbyist, spent $1 million of his own money in the race and focused not on the genial Morella but on the question of which party would control the House of Representatives. The message apparently resonated with Montgomery County voters.

By the time of next year's election, Morella may have suffered another blow. The General Assembly will be drawing new congressional districts next year based on 2000 census data. Lawmakers in Annapolis are talking about making the 8th District more Democratic to help unseat Morella.

Shriver could have plenty of competition in a Democratic primary.

Among those who have been mentioned as possible candidates are Sen. Christopher Van Hollen Jr., Sen. Brian E. Frosh, Del. John Adams Hurson and Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan.

Van Hollen is also considered a leading candidate to be Townsend's running mate in the gubernatorial race. In other words, Townsend could theoretically help her cousin Mark by tapping Van Hollen to run with her.

Call it Massachusetts South.

A parting shot fired in the diversity wars

Here's an early nominee for best line of the General Assembly's 90-day session.

On Thursday, the House of Delegates was the scene of two related walkouts.

The Black Caucus and the Women's Caucus left the chamber floor to huddle in the House lounge to discuss a minority business set-aside bill that some lawmakers were considering weakening.

As Del. Maggie L. McIntosh walked out of the chamber to join the Women's Caucus, the Baltimore Democrat stopped briefly to pick up a microphone and survey the white male crowd left behind.

"Is this the way it used to be?" she asked.

To their credit, the members of the white-guy caucus laughed heartily.

Delegate moves early to beat funding squeeze

Del. Kenneth C. Montague Jr. usually doesn't begin raising money for his re-election bids until the third or fourth year of his four-year term.

But Montague is growing weary of hearing the same refrain from would-be supporters: "I'm maxed out."

That's the insider's way of saying, "I'd love to help you, babe, but the law won't let me give any more money to political candidates."

Under Maryland law, a contributor can give up to $4,000 to a particular candidate, but no more than a total of $10,000 during a four-year election cycle.

Those limits were established in the late 1980s, and Montague, a Baltimore Democrat, figures they are unrealistically low today.

"The problem is some of the folks around here are sopping up all the money," Montague said of some statewide candidates who attract big-figure contributions. "For some of us who wait, it makes it real difficult to fund-raise."

Montague has introduced a bill that would increase the amount a person could give a single candidate from $4,000 to $6,000. And it would raise the maximum a person could give to all candidates from $10,000 to $15,000.

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