- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 28, 2002

"Welcome to Maryland," declare the billboards outside Baltimore-Washington International Airport, emblazoned with Gov. Parris N. Glendening's name and the name of his lieutenant governor, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.
Putting a governor's name on roadside signs is fairly common practice across the country, but no other state in the region promotes its lieutenant governor as Maryland does Mrs. Townsend, a Democrat.
Drivers traveling to and from BWI from Interstate 195 are given a hearty welcome and an apology for the construction from Mrs. Townsend, who is scheduled to announce her candidacy for governor next week.
Maryland's 2002 governor's race is expected to cost more than $15 million. The state-paid signs are one advantage to holding the state's second-highest elective office.
"She's the sitting lieutenant governor, and it's appropriate to have her name on some signs and declarations," said Michael Steele, chairman of the Maryland Republican Party. "But I think it's politically crass to start popping her name up at major landmarks."
Mr. Steele also noted that he has seen Mrs. Townsend's name in other unusual places, such as elevator permits.
The BWI signs were installed in April 2001 to alert passengers to the construction the airport was undergoing as it remodels and expands. Because BWI is one of four airport systems nationally that is owned and administered by the state, the state pays for the signs. The roadside signs cost $4,000 each, said Melanie Miller, a spokeswoman for BWI.
Inside the airport, travelers are greeted with large picture signs of both Mr. Glendening and Mrs. Townsend. Visitors to the airport's Web site are also greeted with two large pictures of both politicians.
"She is our most active lieutenant governor," Ms. Miller said. "I can't tell you what Mickey Steinberg did, but I know she has taken an active role in transportation and BWI." Mr. Steinberg is a former lieutenant governor and a Democrat.
Ms. Miller said the airport would not take the signs down after Mrs. Townsend, the presumed front-running Democrat, says she will seek the governor's office. Republican U.S. Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has announced his candidacy.
Mrs. Townsend said the BWI signs and pictures are there to let travelers know someone is looking out for them, despite the construction headaches.
"We thought it was important for people to know that there's somebody behind them at the airport, and that the governor and lieutenant governor want you in the state," she said.
The other three airport systems in the country that are owned and operated by a state are Bradley International Airport in Hartford, Conn., as well all of the airports in Alaska and Hawaii.
Mrs. Townsend is not the only lieutenant governor seeking a promotion. She is also not the only one whose name also appears on airport signs. Alaska Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer, Democrat, is running to succeed her boss, Gov. Tony Knowles, also a Democrat.
Like Mr. Glendening, Mr. Knowles' terms are limited. Alaska's airport system, including Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport and Fairbanks International Airport, are state owned and administered, and the facilities have welcoming signs featuring politicians including Mrs. Ulmer.
"It was seen as a state-owned airport, and it seemed appropriate to have her name there," said Mark Butler, director of community relations for Ted Stevens airport.
According to the Cook Political Report, a national journal that handicaps races across the country, Mrs. Ulmer is not favored to succeed her boss, unlike Mrs. Townsend. Mrs. Ulmer faces a tough race against popular U.S. Sen. Frank H. Murkowski, a Republican, according to the report.
Maureen O'Connor, the lieutenant governor of Ohio, is not seeking re-election this year. Her name will appear on the signs until after the election in November, however, when the next lieutenant governor's name will be placed over it, said Brian Cunningham, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Transportation, which administers the signs.
In Hawaii, the state used to have pictures of both the governor and lieutenant governor, but that practice was discontinued a few years ago, said Roy Sakata, acting airports administrator for the state of Hawaii.
Mr. Sakata said he was not sure why the change took place but said visitors are greeted with a large mural of Gov. Benjamin J. Cayetano, a Democrat, near the baggage-claim area. Mr. Cayetano's terms are limited, and he is not seeking re-election in November's gubernatorial race. Nor is his lieutenant governor, Mazie Hirono, also a Democrat.
Bradley International Airport in Connecticut is undergoing a multiyear, $200 million reconstruction project similar to that at BWI, said Sue Sharpley, a spokeswoman for the Connecticut Department of Transportation.
Like the other states, Connecticut has a gubernatorial election this year. Incumbent Gov. John G. Rowland, a Republican, is expected to run. At Bradley airport there is only one sign from a government official Mr. Rowland welcoming visitors, Mrs. Sharpley said.
Margie Hyslop contributed to this report.

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