No support for Busch ouster

The Political Game

Proposal: Democrats fail to get behind a Republican offer aimed at replacing the speaker of the House of Delegates.

September 21, 2004|By David Nitkin | David Nitkin,SUN STAFF

A HOUSE of Delegates coup proposed by Del. Anthony J. O'Donnell does not appear to be imminent.

O'Donnell, the House minority whip from Southern Maryland, said he hasn't had any takers since offering this month to throw the 43 votes of the House Republican Caucus behind a new Democratic speaker -- hoping to topple Michael E. Busch.

O'Donnell accuses Busch of dishonest negotiating over slot-machine gambling, which has consumed most of lawmakers' energy in Annapolis this year.

Instead, Busch's defenders are rising to the challenge.

"I can think of no time when Speaker Busch's stature has been greater among members of the House Democratic caucus," said Del. Peter Franchot, a Montgomery County Democrat, in a statement responding to O'Donnell's offer. "His quiet resolve in the face of enormous political pressure -- from Gov. Ehrlich, Senate President Miller and an entire `corrosive coalition' of organized gambling interests -- has reassured his caucus members and empowered progressive voices throughout the state."

Franchot also issued what he called a "pre-emptive warning" to any Democrat considering O'Donnell's offer.

"You would be placing your hat in the ring as the favorite son of Gov. Ehrlich and the Republican right, which has slashed funding for Maryland's colleges and universities [and] slashed Program Open Space funding while eliminating the Office of Smart Growth," he said. "You would also be the foot soldier of a corrosive coalition that finds it appropriate to place thousands of slot machines in places like Oxon Hill and West Baltimore, but rejects them for Ocean City and Timonium because they are not `family friendly.'"

Baltimore-area delegates named to leadership posts

Two Baltimore-area delegates have new leadership positions in the House Health and Government Operations Committee. Democratic Del. Shirley Nathan-Pulliam of Baltimore County was named chairman of a new minority health disparities subcommittee by Del. John A. Hurson, the committee chairman.

Del. Shane E. Pendergrass, a Howard County Democrat, has been appointed chairman of the health occupations subcommittee.

At the same time, Hurson named Democratic delegates David D. Rudolph of Cecil County as chairman of a new pharmaceuticals subcommittee and James W. Hubbard of Prince George's County to head the public health subcommittee.

Lawmakers contest report on voting records

Two state lawmakers from Frederick County say they have been improperly accused of failing to fulfill their civic duties, and are fighting to set the record straight.

Last month, The Frederick News-Post published results of a review of county elections records, showing that several local elected officials had gaps in their voting histories.

The review showed that state Sen. Alex X. Mooney did not vote in the 2000 presidential election and Del. Joseph R. Bartlett missed the primary that year.

The lawmakers, both Republicans, dispute the findings. Mooney submitted a statement saying he did vote, and has persuaded the local elections board to change its records.

"We have no reason to believe, based on their recollections and on Senator Mooney's statement, that his statement is not accurate," Frederick elections chief Stuart Harvey told the News-Post.

Seeing Mooney's success in removing such a nasty blemish from his files, Bartlett is taking the same approach. The News-Post reported last week that Bartlett, too, is writing the county elections board, seeking an alteration.

"I'm going to do the same thing Alex did," Bartlett told the paper. "I'm sure I voted. I haven't missed voting in an election since I was eligible to vote."

Why all the fuss? Both Mooney and Bartlett are young and ambitious conservative lawmakers who know their district well. Both are expected to run for Congress from the 6th District when Bartlett's father, Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, retires. They are trying to erase a potential attack in future elections.

"I was thinking that if someone wanted to take a cheap shot at me in the future, I would get the voting record fixed," Mooney said.

Balto. County chamber remedies breakfast mix-up

Maryland's oddly gerrymandered congressional map has caused some embarrassment for the Baltimore County Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber is organizing a "congressional update" breakfast Sept. 30 and invited the three Democratic U.S. House members who represent parts of the county: Benjamin L. Cardin, Elijah E. Cummings and C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger.

But chamber staffers must not have been paying attention when former Gov. Parris N. Glendening redrew the districts in 2002. The dissected county is now represented by five congressmen, including two Republicans: Western Maryland-based Roscoe G. Bartlett, and Wayne T. Gilchrest, an Eastern Shore native.

The omission was quickly spotted when the chamber notified members of the county's General Assembly delegation of the lineup for the event.

Invitations were issued last week to the two GOP congressmen. Bartlett has accepted, but Gilchrest may have a scheduling conflict, said Jack Boyd, director of economic development and event planning for the chamber.

"It was an honest oversight, and we fixed it," Boyd said. "There was no intention not to invite anyone."

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