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When Life Upstages Politics

Rosapepe, a member of the state university system's board of regents, has taken Giannetti to task for inviting students to tailgate parties where alcohol was served. And Giannetti was the subject of blistering personal attacks on a Web site that turned up last year without any sign of who had posted it.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller (D-Calvert), who has worried about the tone of the race, called the episode "truly amazing."

"Maybe this means we'll see a more uplifting campaign as a result," Miller said. "I mean, I would think you'd be very hard-pressed to say anything bad about a man who saved your life."

Rosapepe seemed to fumble over this notion when asked about it last night. Giannetti had helped him, he agreed, and he was "very grateful." But he did not think it would change the tenor of the campaign.

"I don't think this was about politics," he said.

Even Rosapepe's backers believe it may be the most memorable moment of a campaign that has barely begun. Maloney said he has told the story to several friends, and not one of them believed it at first. When Rosapepe returned to the table, Maloney said, everyone sat in stunned silence.

"My first reaction was that God is good," Maloney said. "And He has a sense of humor."

Staff writer Martin Weil contributed to this report.

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