2008 General Assembly

Key Figures on the Legislative Front Lines

Stories by Lisa Rein, John Wagner and Philip Rucker, Washington Post Staff Writers

Go-To Guy

Joseph C. Bryce
(The Washington Post)

Joseph C. Bryce, the chief legislative officer for Gov. Martin O'Malley (D), is the consummate Annapolis insider. He used to work for the Senate president. He is engaged to the House speaker's co-chief of staff. And he has done this job once before -- when Parris N. Glendening (D) was governor.

During the special session in November on the projected budget deficit, Bryce, 39, was everywhere on O'Malley's behalf: Fielding questions at public hearings about the governor's plans to raise taxes. Trying to persuade wavering lawmakers behind closed doors to support a referendum on slots. And huddling with the governor about how to round up elusive votes.

Bryce drew praise from lawmakers for his mastery of legislative detail and his dry sense of humor.

The latter was on display at a recent gathering of county leaders. Bryce thanked them for showing up to support the governor's special-session agenda at public hearings, in which he occasionally faced hostile lawmakers.

"While I enjoyed it in some sick way, it was a very lonely time," Bryce said.

The pace of the 90-day session should be somewhat more relaxed for Bryce. But he is still expected to be front and center for O'Malley on most high-profile issues, including changes in environmental and energy policies.

-- John Wagner

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© 2008 The Washington Post Company