After Rallying Support, Brown Is an Odd No-Show at Special Session
Before the current special legislative session started, Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D), a former delegate from Prince George's County, made a few rounds talking to lawmakers, in person and on the phone, about the governor's solution to the state's structural deficit of at least $1.5 billion.
Since the session began, Brown said he has talked with legislative leaders and former colleagues to push along the governor's agenda.
But as the debate has intensified over tax increases and especially over slot machine gambling, some lawmakers say they've seen Gov. Martin O'Malley's aides and even talked to the governor himself, but they are wondering what happened to Brown.
"Having been [House] majority whip, knowing the body, knowing the members, I think he probably should have had greater involvement," said Sen. Ulysses Currie (D-Prince George's). "He has not been as visible in his involvement."
Currie said he thought Brown had a higher profile during the special session on medical malpractice about three years ago, even though he was serving in the military in Iraq at the time. According to Currie, Brown made calls back to Annapolis to lawmakers about bills during that session.
Del. Joanne C. Benson (D-Prince George's) said she didn't expect Brown to have such little involvement. "He's taken a low profile," Benson said. "And many of us are surprised by that."
But others said Brown has been instrumental in shaping the debate.
Del. Melony G. Griffith (D-Prince George's) said she called Brown to get his thoughts about the slots referendum. He helped convince her that it was the right thing to do. And Sen. Douglas J. J. Peters (D-Prince George's) said Brown called him to find out what his vote would be on key bills.
Benson said Brown might have been trying to establish an image as a team player. Or, she said, the O'Malley administration might have thought it was better for him to remain quiet, because he was such a vocal opponent of slots in the past. Brown said he has been very active during the special session, meeting with leaders and rank-and-file members.
-- Ovetta Wiggins