Larry Hogan wants it. Glenn Beall doesn't want Larry Hogan to have it. He wants Mac Mathias to have it. But Bob Bauman probably would be very unhappy if Mac Mathias got it. And Mac Mathias, for what it's worth, has demonstrated absolutely no interest in it.
Here are the Republicans of Maryland, preparing to send 30 delegates to a national convention whose watchword is harmony, and their leaders cannot seem to decide who should be marching at the head of the parade.
On the surface, the subject of the debate is the chairmanship of the Maryland delegation, a post which, in a convention with a minimum of disputes, gives its occupant only the right to stand up on national TV and say "The Great State of Maryland casts its votes for . . . "
Party regulars say that this battle over a ceremonial job really is the preliminary round in another, more serious fight: who will be the Republican candidate for governor in 1982.
For months, Prince George's County executive Larry Hogan has been angling for the delegation chairmanship, which he feels is due him for his service at five previous conventions. Why does he want it? Because "he'd be the spokesman for the entire party in the state," explained Hogan's son Larry Hogan Jr.
Then on Tuesday, former Sen. Glenn Beall Jr. called a rump caucus of delegates committed to George Bush and indicated that Hogan, who already is a Republican national committeeman, should not hog all the good jobs.
"The jobs should be passed around," Beall said yesterday from his western Maryland law office. What is the value of the Maryland delegation charimanship? "None . . . I don't know why anyone would want it." Beall said. "But it belongs to the leader of the party in the state."
That leader, he indicated is Maryland's senior senator, liberal Republicn Charles Mac Mathias.
While all the flak is flying, Mathias is keeping his head down and staying as far out as possible. He was traveling to his son's prep school graduation yesterday and could not be reached for comment, but an aide said, "he's not planning to be chairman of the delegation, he's not trying for it."
What would happen if Mathias were drafted for the job? "That's a matter of conjecture," the aide said.
Mathias and conservative Republican congressman Robert Bauman have almost nothing in common save their party affiliation and their home state. No one is sure how Bauman would react to being part of a delegation led by Mathias, but no one believes he would be happy about it.
Larry Hogan went to Mathias asking for his support early this year and came back thinking Mathias had said yes, according to a party regular who knows both men well.More recently, Mathias has added an if to his answer: he will support Hogan if Mathias himself is not drafted.
The delegation chairmanship, Glenn Beall said yesterday, "Is not going to be something Mac [Mathias] is going to seek. The job's got to seek him."
If Mathias truly does not want it.Beall said, "I think the state chairman [Allan Levev] should get it." Hogan, he added, should not.
Maybe he feels [the chairmanship] would put Larry Hogan in a better position for running for governor in 1982," said Hogan's son. "My guess is that Glenn Beall, who's pretty much of a has-been in the party, wants to be a spoiler.
"Glenn Beall got 29 percent of the vote when he ran for governor (in 1978) and maybe he's jealous that Larry Hogan might do better in 1982," added Hogan Jr. "Or maybe he wants to run for governor himself next time and doesn't want Larry Hogan looking so popular."
The whole convoluted business should be settled this Sunday, when the 30 elected delegates convene in Ocean City to elect their chairman.
As far as one delegate is concerned, that's all they will be doing. "Whoever said this might help a Larry Hogan gubernatorial campaign must be terribly naive," said Bowie Mayor Audrey Scott, a Bush delegate.
"All we're talking about is 15 seconds of glory."