- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 7, 2012

They may not agree on casinos, tax rates or debt ceilings, but at last week’s Board of Public Works meeting, Gov. Martin O'Malley and Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot found common ground.

The two Democrats spend many meetings of the contract-approving board sparring about the best ways to spend the state’s money. And though both are in the same party, their viewpoints on several key matters of fiscal policy often don’t match up.

Mr. O'Malley opened the meeting by congratulating the American League Baltimore Orioles on their berth in baseball’s postseason. And Mr. Franchot chimed right in, citing a news story about how D.C. politicians forgot their partisan differences to root for the National League division champion Washington Nationals.

“I’m delighted the Orioles have brought O'Malley and Franchot together, too,” Mr. Franchot said.

The future’s so bright?

Maryland’s comptroller isn’t just a baseball fan. He’s also the board’s resident fashionista.

About halfway through the meeting, he picked up a pair of dark sunglasses from the table and put them on. Peter V.R. Franchot explained he’d had LASIK eye surgery a day earlier and couldn’t look directly at people who were speaking to the board.

“My apologies. This is not a prank,” Mr. Franchot said, putting on the sunglasses and smiling.

This isn’t Mr. Franchot’s first health-related fashion statement at a Board of Public Works meeting. He also hasn’t worn a necktie to a meeting since springtime after an elbow injury.

At this rate, Mr. Franchot’s blazer could be replaced by a leather jacket as temperatures continue to get cooler.

Literal economic strength

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley likes to take the occasional potshot at neighboring Virginia and Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, but he’s now threatening to literally flex his muscles on behalf of the Free State.

Mr. O'Malley, a Democrat, upped the ante during a radio interview last week with WTOP, where he discussed Maryland politics and accused Mr. McDonnell of opposing tax increases for the rich, using “gimmicks” to create budget surpluses and supporting a new Virginia voter ID law that he said amounts to voter suppression.

When radio host Mark Segraves asked Mr. O'Malley whether he would return for a radio debate with Mr. McDonnell leading up to Election Day, the Maryland governor obliged and offered an additional challenge.

“We can have a discussion about how we can work together to create jobs and opportunity now,” he said. “And it can be followed immediately by a pushup contest.”

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