O'Malley, Townsend to visit Olympics

Potential adversaries to make separate trips

February 09, 2002|By Tim Craig | Tim Craig,SUN STAFF

Baltimore's mayor and Maryland's lieutenant governor will travel to Salt Lake City next week to help push the region's Olympic bid, but the two potential adversaries will not be there at the same time.

Mayor Martin O'Malley and Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend will each spend part of next week touring sports venues, attending receptions and lobbying behind the scenes to bring the 2012 Summer Games to the Baltimore-Washington region.

The Chesapeake Region 2012 Coalition, the group sponsoring the area's bid, is paying for their trips. The coalition is also sending Washington Mayor Anthony Williams to the Games next week.

"It is important for them to go and demonstrate their interest and enthusiasm in our region's bid," said Clarence T. Bishop, vice president of the Chesapeake Region 2012 Coalition. "It is also important for them to go and see as much as they can about the operation of the Olympic Games."

Townsend and O'Malley, who might face each other this year in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, have had a strained relationship lately. But they both emphasize that scheduling - not politics - is why they will be in Salt Lake City at different times.

O'Malley will be in Salt Lake City on Tuesday and Wednesday. The mayor and Williams will attend a reception Tuesday honoring the four U.S. cities still in contention to hold the 2012 Games.

Washington-Baltimore, New York, San Francisco and Houston are vying to be the U.S. candidate for the games. The U.S. Olympic Committee will make a final decision in November. The International Olympic Committee is expected to choose a host city for the 2012 Games in 2005.

Townsend, who is on the Chesapeake Region 2012 Coalition board of directors, will be at the Games from Friday through Feb. 18.

O'Malley has infuriated Townsend by publicly mulling a run for the governor's office, describing a "vacuum" of leadership in the governor's race. Last week, the mayor was angered by an e-mail sent by Townsend's chief fund-raiser urging Democratic donors not to give money to O'Malley's campaign.

Townsend spokesman William Mann said she made her travel arrangements three months ago and learned only Wednesday about O'Malley's itinerary.

O'Malley said that the lieutenant governor's office did not check with his office when making Olympic travel plans and his office never checked with Townsend's office.

Despite the rift between the two, Bishop said, the region's elected officials need to present a united front. "It is important that they all get along very well because this is regional effort," Bishop said.

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