New Hire Looks Like the Odd Man In

Queen Elizabeth II is scheduled to visit Washington, Virginia and Kentucky in May. Her spokesmen leave open the possibility of a visit to Maryland.
Queen Elizabeth II is scheduled to visit Washington, Virginia and Kentucky in May. Her spokesmen leave open the possibility of a visit to Maryland. (By Chris Jackson -- Getty Images)

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By Philip Rucker and Megan Greenwell
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, March 29, 2007

In Charles County, Democrats swept Republicans out of every contested office last fall, from county commissioner to judge of the Orphans' Court.

But one important office will soon be held by a former Republican politician: county administrator. Charles's five Democratic commissioners have hired a one-time GOP candidate to fill the county's top non-elected government job.

Paul W. Comfort, who will begin work as county administrator on May 22, is leaving the county administrator job in Queen Anne's County to work in Charles. In Queen Anne's, a county on Maryland's Eastern Shore, Comfort had an active role in Republican politics.

He ran as the GOP nominee for state's attorney in 2002, and lost to Democrat Frank M. Kratovil Jr., who remains that county's elected prosecutor after winning reelection last year.

In the 2002 race, Comfort received 6,830 votes to Kratovil's 9,169 votes.

Comfort also has made several political donations over the years. In 2003, he gave $62 to the Republican Central Committee in Caroline County, another Eastern Shore jurisdiction. In 1999, he gave $30 to the Queen Anne's County Republican Central Committee, according to campaign finance records.

The Charles commissioners said during a news conference Tuesday that they view the county administrator job as a nonpartisan position. They said they did not consider Comfort's political background in deciding to hire him.

"Even though we are five Democrats, we still represent all citizens of Charles County and we still want the best qualified person for the job," Commissioners President Wayne Cooper (D-At Large) said. "Did [politics] matter? No."

Cooper continued, making light of the Democratic control of county government: "It would be nice if everybody was like us, if everybody were a Democrat."

Added Commissioner Samuel N. Graves Jr. (D-La Plata): "We were looking for qualifications to perform this job, not someone to run a political race for us. We didn't even consider political affiliation."

Cardin Appoints a Liaison

U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) announced Tuesday that he has named Hammad S. Matin to be his field representative for Southern Maryland.

Matin will begin work April 1 representing the newly elected senator in Charles, Calvert and St. Mary's counties. He will serve as Cardin's liaison with area citizens as well as local and state officials.

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