- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 14, 2007

ANNAPOLIS — Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown yesterday said it’s “probably certain” that Gov. Martin O’Malley will convene a special session of the Democratic-controlled legislature to address the likely closure of two Prince George’s County hospitals.

“It’s probably certain that in order to complete this, the governor would have to call us back into special session, which is unfortunate because there’s literally a daily cost” of running a special session, said Mr. Brown, a Democrat.

The nonprofit agency that manages the hospital system was expected to vote Monday whether to shut down the hospital system, which includes Prince George’s Hospital Center and Laurel Regional Hospital, but said it will wait until Wednesday at the request of County Executive Jack B. Johnson, a Democrat.

State and county officials had brokered a deal worth hundreds of millions of dollars to transfer operations to a government-backed hospital authority, but the Prince George’s Council balked at the arrangement as the 2007 Maryland General Assembly ended last Monday.

Mr. O’Malley, a Democrat, was in Ireland yesterday and not available for comment.

Mr. Brown repeatedly has said his role is to serve at the pleasure of the governor, not to push his own political career, and that his time in the U.S. Army has largely defined his position.

“There is no other five-year period of my life that has shaped who I am as a person than those five years of active duty,” said Mr. Brown, called upon to broker the hospital deal in large part because of the eight years he spent as a delegate from Prince George’s County.

Mr. Brown, 45, in his first four months of office, has led Mr. O’Malley’s transition team and has been put in charge of leading the newly created BRAC sub-Cabinet to manage an influx of military families to the state.

“I think that each lieutenant governor has an opportunity to put a face on the office, to do some interesting and innovative things to make a difference in Maryland,” said Mr. Brown, a Huntington, N.Y., native and Harvard Law School graduate who is married with two children.

However, like other lieutenant governors, he has largely followed the long-standing tradition of acting mostly as a cheerleader for this boss — or at least until recently.

Mr. Brown’s immediate predecessor, Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, a Republican and the first black official elected to statewide office, redefined the job and used it as a springboard for his 2006 Senate run.

Mr. Steele downplays the nexus between his and Mr. Brown’s race and role as lieutenant governor, despite the importance it played in their being picked as running mates in 2002 and 2006, respectively.

“My view of it is you can’t rest on” being black, Mr. Steele said. “Certainly my Democratic opponents wouldn’t let me rest on that.”

Mr. Brown said he built his success on the struggles of black Americans, but is dedicated to serving the entire state.

“I think the African-American community has successfully gauged the political process as achieving successes economically, educationally and I am grateful that I have been able to benefit from those achievements and successes, the effort the struggle that others have experienced,” Mr. Brown said.

Lieutenant governors are picked for their ability to widen the appeal of a gubernatorial candidate, often through their race, sex, voting district and fundraising abilities.

Mr. Brown’s supporters say he will do well in the job and that his contacts from working in the General Assembly will be vital to Mr. O’Malley’s success.

Former Sen. Barbara A. Hoffman, a Baltimore Democrat, said Mr. Steele and Mr. Brown more than met the criteria, calling Mr. Brown a “brilliant choice.”

House Speaker Michael E. Busch, Anne Arundel County Democrat, said state lawmakers “have a lot of faith and confidence in Mr. Brown because he was one of us.”

But Mrs. Hoffman said she thinks history is against him. No lieutenant governor has won a race for governor, and the past two have lost in runs for higher offices. Former Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, a Democrat, lost to Mr. Ehrlich in 2002 and Mr. Steele lost to Benjamin L. Cardin, a Democrat, in his 2006 Senate run.

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