Md. Democrats Celebrate Good Fortune as Inaugural Week Begins
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 18, 1999; Page B09
Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening kicked off inauguration week in grand style last night with a festive party that drew 1,100 friends, business and community leaders and Democrats still gloating over November's victory.
Glendening, his wife, Frances Anne, and Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend greeted well-wishers for hours, smiling for photos and chatting briefly with each one. And while they may have tired of the monotony of it all, they didn't let it show. After all, these are good times for Maryland Democrats. Glendening posted a 10 percentage-point victory over Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey, and Democrats recaptured six seats in the General Assembly from Republicans.
"Spirits couldn't be any higher in the party than they are now," said Peter Krauser, a Prince George's County lawyer who heads the Maryland Democratic Party, as he mingled among revelers.
Last night's "pre-inaugural reception" at the University of Maryland at College Park kicked off a busy week for Glendening, who will be inaugurated for his second four-year term on Wednesday, an affair complete with a parade in Annapolis and a formal ball in Baltimore. Partygoers paid $75 each last night to munch on crab balls, chicken and spinach pastry, and, of course, to get a few seconds of face time with Glendening and Townsend.
There were no speeches and few discussions of public policy as revelers listened to jazz and swing bands and were entertained by troupe of mimes. But Townsend said the week's gatherings, while mostly for fun, serve an important purpose.
"We're celebrating a terrific campaign and getting energized for the next four years," Townsend said. The parties "give you a chance to say thank you to all those who have really helped."
To those who have been around the political scene for a while, last night's party was a lot different than the one four years ago. At the time, Glendening had squeaked out a 6,000-vote victory over Sauerbrey. But in November, Glendening won handily, giving him broader authority to implement his policies.
"I think Glendening has a mandate to get the things done he talked about in the campaign," said Gil Weidenfeld, the former mayor of Greenbelt.
Del. Peter Franchot (D-Montgomery) agreed, saying that Glendening will likely see less resistance to his policies among lawmakers in Annapolis.
"In Annapolis, power is 90 percent of the game, and Parris has undisputed power because of his election victory," Franchot said. "He will find a lot more cooperation. There will still be tension and institutional rivalry between the executive and legislative branches. But the dynamic which said that 'Parris is weak and we can criticize him freely and oppose him free' is over."
That remains to be seen, as Glendening has been forced for four years to fend off challenges to his authority from legislative leaders, as well as some back benchers. And it is unclear what kind of relationship Glendening will have with Democratic leaders like Prince George's County Executive Wayne K. Curry and Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, who both backed a rival Democrat in last summer's primary race. Curry did not attend last night's soiree because he was a keynote speaker at a Martin Luther King celebration at the same time.
Another wild card is Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D), who was critical of Glendening throughout much of his first term. The two men patched things up for the election, but Duncan, who did not attend last night's party, has been sniping at Glendening recently to ensure that he lives up to campaign promises in his upcoming budget.
But answers to those questions were reserved for another day. Last night was reserved for partying. "This is a great gathering of friends and family," Townsend said, before returning to shake more hands.
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