Growing accustomed to her face

The Political Game

Townsend: The lieutenant governor is taking advantage of her incumbency in preparation for next year.

April 03, 2001|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,SUN STAFF

THE VALUE OF incumbency can be enormous, and it seems that few candidates appreciate that more than Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.

In the last couple of years, Townsend, who is widely expected to run for governor next year, has taken full advantage of the tools at her disposal to increase her public profile.

She has made public service announcements about stolen cars that have aired widely. She starred in another ad for Maryland Public Television. And then there are the huge pictures of her that greet passengers arriving at Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

That's not even mentioning the 70,000 promotional inserts the state paid to have distributed in a Tampa newspaper during the Super Bowl in January - ads that again featured Townsend.

The latest? A large photograph of a smiling Townsend and Gov. Parris N. Glendening being run in newspapers around the state.

The ad, paid for by the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, highlights some of the state's attributes, such as its high family income and large number of scientists. Townsend is featured because she oversees the state's economic development effort.

But part of the ad sounds remarkably like a campaign blurb.

"As governor and lieutenant governor, we've listened to industry leaders and pursued initiatives to help keep this business-friendly environment growing," the ad reads.

The ad featuring the governor and his lieutenant are the last of a series highlighting Maryland's business environment.

The series, which began last month and runs in 22 Maryland newspapers through June, cost the state $650,000. The picture of Townsend and Glendening appears in 17 percent of the ads.

Michael Morrill, a spokesman for Glendening and Townsend, made no apology for the ad.

"While some national politicians are talking down the economy, we have a very different story to tell in Maryland," Morrill said. "It's absolutely appropriate for the governor and lieutenant governor ... to appear in a limited number of ads that tell businesses how good the story is in Maryland."

Hunt for cash continues despite fund-raising ban

There may be a ban on state lawmakers raising money now, while the General Assembly is in session, but that doesn't stop candidates from planning to collect some cash.

Townsend was in Montgomery County the other day at the home of Terry Lierman, who ran for Congress in the 8th District last year. During the get-together, sources report, Townsend's troops recruited folks to help with her fund-raiser next month in Montgomery.

Meanwhile, Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, who is still weighing a race for governor, is laying the groundwork for a major fund-raiser in the county in June.

Finally, Prince George's County Executive Wayne K. Curry, who is prohibited from running for a another term as executive, is having his own fund-raiser next month. The $1,000-a-head event prompts the question of whether Curry is considering a run, too.

While there is a general ban on fund raising during the 90-day legislative session, the law doesn't apply to Duncan, Curry and C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, the Baltimore County executive, because they are not state officials and not declared candidates.

Arundel senator scores a hole in something

Another nominee for Best Line of the Year Award:

The other day, Sen. Philip C. Jimeno took to the Senate floor to defend a bill that would, among other things, allow a state economic development organization to build a golf course in northern Anne Arundel County.

During his remarks, the usually low-key Jimeno jolted the Senate a bit with a rather passionate call for the state to help provide "affordable golf."

A short while later, Sen. Clarence W. Blount - the Senate's veteran majority leader with the foghorn voice - lavished praise on Jimeno.

"We had a great discussion today. The distinguished senator from Anne Arundel County certainly gave an outstanding something," Blount said. "Socrates, Plato and Aristotle would be very proud of you."

No doubt those guys hated the exorbitant greens fees at the Athens Country Club.

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