William Donald Schaefer slept here

August 31, 2008|By LAURA VOZZELLA

Fells Point is about to lose a celebrity, somebody famous for jumping into a pool.

Michael Phelps is still headed there, but William Donald Schaefer is on his way out.

The former mayor, governor, comptroller and seal-pool dipper just put his Lancaster Street rowhouse on the market for $225,000.

The 2BR, 1BA built in 1820 has a waaay outdated kitchen but unbeatable political provenance, even if Schaefer never really lived there.

Though never accused of being a material guy - Schaefer adores fast food and political-convention freebies - he collects houses like John McCain.

"He doesn't have as many as I have," Schaefer told me the other day.

That's only a slight overstatement. McCain had eight properties at Politico's last count. Schaefer appears to have five: an apartment at a Catonsville retirement community, a place in Ocean City, two side-by-side townhouses in Pasadena and the Fells Point rowhouse.

Schaefer bought the rowhouse for $93,000 back in August 1996, about a year and a half after leaving the governor's mansion. He sold his boyhood home on Edgewood Street about that time and wanted to maintain a place in Baltimore, even though he mostly stayed in Pasadena, next door to his longtime companion, the late Hilda Mae Snoops.

Attached to the back of Jimmy's Restaurant, the rowhouse served as campaign headquarters when Schaefer decided he'd had it with retirement and ran for comptroller. Campaign signs and T-shirts still fill the place.

"It's a nice little house," Schaefer said. "I never did anything with it, just occasionally sleep there. I had political campaigns there. I hope to get a good price for it."

Seems he got it. Listing agent Cindy Conklin said Friday afternoon that they'd just accepted an offer. She couldn't disclose the price, but said it was "very fair."

Though the listing played up the Schaefer angle - "Just listed. The house of William Donald Schaefer," it read - Conklin didn't think they buyer was looking for a piece of Baltimore political history. (I wasn't able to reach her.)

"I don't think the history's that important [to the buyer]," Conklin said. "I think we just found the right person for the right house."

Funny, he didn't used to be such a stay-at-home

News that Bob Ehrlich is skipping the Republican National Convention has politicos abuzz. And why not? Ehrlich has been to the last four GOP wingdings. And this year, he's chairman of John McCain's Maryland campaign.

Ehrlich says he's just too busy.

But why buy that when it's much more fun to speculate? Here are some of the theories ignited by Bob's Staycation '08.

* The Golf Theory. It's a great time of year for golf. Ehrlich played 20 rounds in 27 days between Sept. 15, 2004, and Oct. 11, 2004, The Sun's David Nitkin reported way back when. Where would you rather be - stuffy convention hall or on the links?

* The "I'm Not Playing Second Fiddle to My Second Fiddle" Theory. Ehrlich has kept a high profile since leaving office, but his No. 2 has been Steele-ing even more of the spotlight. While Ehrlich has a local radio show, former Lt. Gov. Michael Steele got a national TV gig on Fox. Steele will have a featured speaking role at the convention Tuesday as he did at the last convention.

* The "I (Still) Love NY" Theory. Ehrlich backed Rudy Giuliani for president. The ex-gov didn't get on board with McCain until the day Mitt Romney, his last big rival, dropped out. And McCain had to schlep all the way to Arbutus and talk military with Senior before Ehrlich gave him the nod.

* The "I Coulda Been a Contender" Theory. Ehrlich mused in a Wall Street Journal piece last year that he might have been a VP pick had he won re-election. The Swamp, the Tribune's political blog, described Ehrlich as baffled by McCain's pick of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. Interviewed for a talk show at Tribune Co. studios Friday, Ehrlich said he didn't know much about Palin - "which ain't exactly a momentum-building statement," The Swamp said. On his way out of the studio, The Swamp reports, Ehrlich mumbled to acquaintances, "I gotta go digest this choice."

* And finally, the most outlandish of all: The "I'm Not Running For Governor After All" Theory. Conventions are bonanzas for raising out-of-state campaign cash and schmoozing home-state delegates - the troops a candidate needs to organize and get out the vote. "If you are running, you ought to be here," said one Republican insider.

Erhlich spokesman Paul Schurick wasn't buying any of it.

"Sometimes a cigar's just a cigar," he said. "The fact is that he's really busy at his day job, and he's really busy with his family."

Connect the dots

After playing on the Dems' convention stage, Melissa Etheridge sat with the Maryland delegation to hear John Kerry, Bill Clinton and Joe Biden speak. She was the guest of Del. Heather Mizeur and her partner, Deborah Mizeur. Before the primary was decided, the Obama campaign had the singer call Mizeur, a superdelegate then on the fence. ... For a moment during Obama's convention speech, there was a close-up on someone in the Maryland delegation: Glen Middleton, executive director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 67. Mizeur got some convention TV face-time, too, but not on the big night.

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