- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 20, 2003

Maryland politicians, would-be politicians and former politicians made themselves easy to recognize at the annual J. Millard Tawes Crab & Clam Bake.

They were the ones not eating.

They weren’t standing in line, and they weren’t carrying cardboard boxes piled full of crabs and corn on the cob. They weren’t sitting under corporate tents, picking crabs and wiping messy hands on rolls of paper towels. That would distract from the main purpose of the state’s premier political event: to network.

“This is the biggest schmooze party in Maryland. I don’t spend time eating,” said Bruce Bereano, one of the best-known lobbyists in Annapolis. “My hands are to shake hands and tap people on the shoulder. I’ll eat later.”

Otherwise, Annapolis’ finest blended easily with the 5,100 people at the feast Wednesday, some of whom drove from Virginia, to gather in the tiny crabbing town of Crisfield for the annual July feast.

“It’s like a big party for elected officials and government types,” said Mark Frazer, mayor of North Beach and president of the Maryland Municipal League. “It’s a more relaxed setting. This is down-home Maryland.”

It’s an old-fashioned political event, with voters and other nonpoliticians getting a glimpse of their representatives and a chance to talk to them. Before Web pages and cell phones, there was the clam bake, named for a former governor from Crisfield.

“This is the place to be — to meet and greet anybody who’s anybody,” said Sen. Thomas McLain “Mack” Middleton. They carpooled and chartered buses to make the drive from as far away as Western Maryland. Even Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. made the three-hour drive from Annapolis to the clam bake after a long Board of Public Works meeting in the morning.

• Bell ringer

U.S. Rep. Steny H. Hoyer was expected to ring the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange today.

Mr. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat and the House minority whip, will also meet with Richard Grasso, the exchange’s chairman and chief executive officer, to talk about the financial services industry.

Mr. Hoyer said he plans to bring up the impact of corporate accountability legislation. He wants to talk to Mr. Grasso and other executives about efforts to restore confidence in America’s capital markets.

• Money for the ICC

Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. said he has asked leading congressional Republicans for “tens of millions of dollars” for the Intercounty Connector project.

The money would go toward planning and engineering of the proposed highway linking Interstate 270 in Montgomery County with Interstate 95 in Prince George’s County.

Mr. Ehrlich met Friday with House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert and Rep. Don Young, Alaska Republican and the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Mr. Ehrlich said he also requested federal money for bus rapid transit. When asked whether he has shifted his support toward rapid bus service from light rail for a new Metro Purple Line, Mr. Ehrlich said “shifted” would be “too strong a term.”

• Union split

Leaders of the AFL-CIO have thrown their support to Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley’s re-election, but the rank-and-file members haven’t.

The members also refused to endorse the re-election of Baltimore City Council President Sheila Dixon, even though she also has the backing of the union’s executive committee.

• A strong negative

“No, N-O, no.”

In no uncertain terms, Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. turned thumbs down on a plan to give the District of Columbia a vote in the House of Representatives by making it part of he Maryland delegation.

Mr. Ehrlich said the District is a federal district that was set aside for a reason. Interviewed Thursday on WTOP Radio, Mr. Ehrlich said the District is “not supposed to be part of Maryland.”

U.S. Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, Virginia Republican, is backing a plan that would give the District a House vote.

• Anniversary cake

The six-month honeymoon state Comptroller William Donald Schaefer granted new Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. ended sweetly Wednesday with a coconut pie.

Maryland’s first lady, Kendel Ehrlich, showed up for the state Board of Public Works meeting with the pie — a favorite of the comptroller’s.

Mr. Schaefer, a Democrat and former governor, joked that the pie seemed to be a bribe. “It is,” Mrs. Ehrlich replied with a laugh.

Despite the expiration Tuesday of Mr. Schaefer’s self-imposed period of refraining from criticizing the governor, he praised the Republican governor’s work, telling him former Gov. Parris N. Glendening, a Democrat, was to blame for Maryland’s budget problems.

“Everywhere I go, I tell them that this is not your doing, that you had absolutely nothing to do with that budget, that you were given the most difficult task of any governor I’ve ever known,” Mr. Schaefer said.

However, Mr. Schaefer suggested Mr. Ehrlich needed to pay more attention to cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay and should consider supporting a 10-cent increase in the transportation tax.

• Found guilty

A judge convicted Carl O. Snowden, an aide to the Anne Arundel County executive and a longtime political activist, of impaired driving and related traffic counts.

District Judge John P. McKenna gave Mr. Snowden probation before judgment last Monday. He put Mr. Snowden on a year’s probation and fined him $250 for driving while impaired, negligent driving and not following the white lines on Route 50 outside Annapolis in November.

• Out of the running

Five candidates for office in Baltimore have been disqualified because they missed the deadline for filing routine financial disclosure reports.

The five were tossed out by the city’s ethics board Tuesday. They are: Dominque Stevenson, a Democrat running for mayor; Kevin L. Martin, a Republican in the race for City Council president; and three candidates for City Council — Democrats Michael Seipp and Loretta Johnson and Republican James Quigley.

But Mr. Quigley won a second chance, thanks to another provision of the election law. Mr. Seipp, perhaps the best known of the five, and others told the Baltimore Sun they will fight the ruling.

• Welcome aboard

Delaware Democratic Party leaders are embracing a new political force that many politicians might have shied away from a few years ago.

The Delaware Stonewall Democrats was formed earlier this year to ensure equal rights for the homosexual, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.

“Not everyone is willing to declare themselves gay or lesbian publicly,” said Richard Bayard, chairman of the Democratic Party of Delaware.

“These folks have declared themselves Democrats, and they are welcome.”

This column is based in part on wire service reports.

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