O'malley-duncan: Blink And Miss It

THE TALK

July 17, 2009|By Laura Vozzella | Laura Vozzella,laura.vozzella@baltsun.com

I drove three hours to Crisfield on Wednesday and three hours back, and for a few hours in between talked to a bunch of politicians out on a hot parking lot. It was so worth it, if only to (almost) see Martin O'Malley and Doug Duncan cross paths.

The Democratic governor and the Democrat who might challenge him in next year's primary came face to face at the J. Millard Tawes Crab and Clam Bake.

Duncan, the former Montgomery County executive, has hinted that he might run, either for governor or for lieutenant governor with former Prince George's exec Wayne Curry at the top of the ticket. Curry was a Tawes no-show, however, so how serious could he be?

Duncan was standing near lobbyist Bruce Bereano's corporate tent Wednesday afternoon when O'Malley strolled by. The governor shook the hand of his once-and-maybe-future rival, said "Enjoy your day" and kept going.

At least that's what Duncan told me O'Malley said to him. I can testify only that the exchange was brief. I was standing right there. I saw Duncan. I saw the governor heading his way. I looked away for a second. I looked again and saw only the back of O'Malley's head and Duncan standing there, chuckling over the gubernatorial bum's rush.

I missed it! That whole Tawes schlep for nothing!

Unless Duncan would care to make it official and let his intentions be known right then and there. I asked.

"More news to come," was all I got. But Duncan did add a little zinger that was worth something, if not quite six hours in the car.

"We do need a new governor," he said. "That's for sure."

Mr. Cool

Along with crab dip and Smith Island cake, Bereano's corporate tent offered little handheld, battery-powered fans. Thanks to a computer chip embedded in one of the blades, the gizmos blinked: "Welcome to Tawes Crab & Clam Bake. Have a Cool Time."

They cost Bereano about $6 apiece, and he gave out about 200. Wonders of technology and lobbying never cease.

"People loved them," Bereano said.

Among the takers: U.S. Rep. Frank Kratovil's four towheaded sons.

Others who stopped by Bereano's tent and may or may not have availed themselves of free fans: former Gov. Marvin Mandel, Comptroller Peter Franchot, state senator and Finance Committee Chairman Thomas "Mac" Middleton, Baltimore City Council President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Harford County Exec David Craig.

Aspirants aplenty

Even in an off-election year, there were plenty of aspiring officeholders at Tawes.

Among them were Mike Pappas and Charles Lollar, two Republicans mulling runs for governor. Pappas had a tent full of T-shirted supporters. Lollar had Chris Meekins, who managed state Sen. Andy Harris' unsuccessful congressional campaign against Kratovil. Harris was at Tawes, too. And then there was Jim Smith, the term-limited Baltimore County exec not running for at least one state office.

"I watch other people run and I think, 'Now what would I like to do?'" Smith said. "It's not comptroller."

Thinking inside the box?

On the off chance that somebody out there doesn't care about Tawes, here's news of another spectacle: Actor David Arquette has been hanging out this week in a clear plastic box atop the Madison Square Garden marquee, and Senator Theatre owner Tom Kiefaber got in on the stunt.

Arquette went up in the box as a way to raise awareness about hunger. Kiefaber joined him to draw attention to another cause, the landmark theater that goes to auction Wednesday.

Arquette has been a fan of the theater since it screened The Tripper, a horror movie he directed in 2006. He invited Kiefaber to join him in the box. He also said a few words about the theater over Kiefaber's phone.

"Just the fact that it's going to auction is really sad, that they weren't allowed to turn it into a nonprofit," Arquette said.

Kiefaber, who took a cheapie bus up to New York for the day, found the trip a welcome distraction.

"With all that's going on in the theater, it's a great little road trip," he said.

The Talk appears on Fridays.

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