Notes from MACo

Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. "Jack" Young, outside the Alexander & Cleaver reception in Ocean City Wednesday, discusses his next move with aides. Photo by Josh Kurtz

Good fences make good neighbors. Competing receptions take place all the time during the course of a Maryland Association of Counties summer convention in Ocean City. Sometimes they even take place at the exact same time in adjoining bars and restaurants, now that the Annapolis establishments Dry 85 and Red Red Wine Bar have opened outposts that are attached to each other in OC.

But we may never have seen anything like the phenomenon we witnessed Wednesday evening, when the venerable Annapolis lobbying firm Alexander & Cleaver held a reception at Dry 85 and during the exact same time slot, Compass Government Relations Partners, whose founders worked at A&C before jumping ship and setting up their own shop a year ago, were next door at Red Red Wine Bar.


Most of the guests moved easily from one joint to the next, including some of the “Big 8” – Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young (D) and the executives of the state’s seven biggest counties. Some guests showed up at one place only to be told they belonged next door.

One veteran legislative leader made Biblical references to Solomon and dividing babies. Fortunately, no one was hurt.

Looking for a hired gun. One consequence of veteran lobbyist J. William Pitcher joining forces with the Bellamy Genn government relations shop, as Maryland Matters reported earlier this week, is that the National Rifle Association must look for a new Annapolis lobbyist.

Pitcher has represented the gun group for many years. But Bellamy Genn represents the advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety. So Pitcher decided to avoid the conflict of interest. He is able to bring his 17 other lobbying clients into his new firm.

Will any Annapolis lobbying shops want to take on the NRA as a client?

Sun burn. One of the hot topics at MACo Wednesday was the commentary penned by Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Chairman Paul G. Pinsky (D-Prince George’s) that surfaced on The Baltimore Sun website. It was a serious denunciation of Republican Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr.’s record.

“People, like our governor, who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones,” Pinsky wrote. “But the hypocrisy here goes much deeper than that old adage suggests. Governor Hogan has a fundamentally flawed approach to governing. He panders to our state’s worst instincts and takes no responsibility for his own administration’s failures.”

Beyond the substance of Pinsky’s complaints, the tactic raised more than a few eyebrows.

Pinsky is considered one of four leading candidates to succeed veteran Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) whenever Miller decides to move on. Was this manifesto a none-too-subtle campaign statement, designed to show how pugnacious a foe Pinsky can be to Hogan?

Pinsky is by far the most progressive of the potential candidates to succeed Miller. The other perceived contenders in an unscheduled race that no one is talking publicly about yet, are Majority Leader Guy J. Guzzone (D-Howard), Budget and Taxation Chairwoman Nancy J. King (D-Montgomery), and Capital Budget Chairman Douglas J.J. Peters (D-Prince George’s).

Miller, for the record, attended half a dozen receptions and other events at MACo Wednesday night, according to our spies.

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Josh Kurtz
Founding Editor Josh Kurtz is a veteran chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He was an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, for eight years, and for eight years was the editor of E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill. For 6 1/2 years Kurtz wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz regularly gives speeches and appears on TV and radio shows to discuss Maryland politics.


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