An air of crisis is creeping once again into the offices of Maryland's lieutenant governor. As he did last year about this time, Samuel W. Booley is questioning his relationship with the governor, fretting about their difference on the issue of abortion, and wondering whether his jobs is worth keeping.
For the third time since he was plucked from the obscurity of county politics to run with Harry Hughes in 1978, Bogley is talking -- quietly and in perplexed tones -- about resigning. He has put his staff on notice "because they deserve the input." He has met twice with members of Hughes' staff to talk informally about "whether we can ever get untangled from the abortion issue."
"We have reached one of those plateaus," Bogley says, "where we are wondering if we should go through this whole process again where the governor and I are perceived by the public as representing the two sides of an issue. It's an albatross on both of our necks."
The problem has not yet gained full force; the General Assembly has yet to consider state funding for abortions, and it has yet been necessary, as it was last year, for Bogley to restrict himself to his office while aides turned away crowds of reporters.
But, Bogley says, "I can see it coming."
The antiabortion lobbyists, which last year included Bogley's wife, are again appearing daily in the state-house corridors, and Hughes yesterday attended a Planned Parenthood reception to reiterate his nearly opposite stance. Soon, Bogley knows, people will begin asking him where he stands this year, and what he will or will not do to support his cause.
It is the prospect of those questions, and accompanying calls to action by activists on both sides of the abortion issue that distresses Bogley. It is not a question of persuading the governor, or accepting his position. The problem is with what is perceived.
"Other than in the budget, we don't even deal with this problem -- the legislature does," Bogley said in an interview. "But the governor and myself are the two people in state government that people can identity with -- and they tend to measure the issue as going up or down based on what is happening with us.
"I don't want to be an embarrassment to the Hughes administration for four years. I support him, and don't think I should be in a position where I am damaging him."
It is typical of Bogley, who has earned a sort of protective affection from legislators for his painfully honest dedication to relatively minor jobs in the Hughes' administration, that the most painful question is of damage to the governor, not to him.
My role is to support the governor, and I do support and am working with him in all areas," he says. "But I don't see that he would want to continue to run with a lieutenant governor who has this kind of difference with him. So it's a question of whether my departure is going to be now or two years from now."
For now, Bogley is trying to defuse the issue. He will not discuss his differences with Hughes, publically and asks reporters not to write more stories discussing his role in the administration and differences with Hughes. s
"What I'm saying is wait until the end of the session, and then we can sit down and go over all the issues and all that we are trying to accomplish," he says. "But when stories are written on this, it looks like I am trying to put pressure on the governor. I'm not -- neither of us want that.
"There have been considerable pressures on legislators since last year from people on both sides of the abortion issue, and it's not going to take much more to put me in a position where I can't be effective."
What particularly troubling Bogley about the situation is that he had just begun to feel that he was taking a larger role in the administration. He has been included in some of the policy discussions on transportation funding recently, and his staff has been included in considering other legislation.
"Now, we have nowhere to go but up," Bogley said. But going up means working quietly on what he is allowed to do, not taking issue with the governor.
Bogley does not say now when he will make a firm decision, or what will make up his mind. But he can see the bright red pro-life buttons on lapels everywhere he goes, and he can read the proposals of legislators determined to battle the issue out again. It is, once more, the time for Samuel W. Bogley to sit in his office and agonize over it all.