In Prince George's County these days, those who have chosen to affect the flow of political power with infusions of ready cash are finding themselves besieged with requests for assistance from county politicians and their friends.
Presidential, senatorial and congressional campaign committees are trying to raise last-minute funds for their candidates.Local luminaries are being feted at testimonial dinners. And the county's Democratic Party, which controls all but one seat available to Prince George's politicians, is pressing for funds through their annual fund-raising dinner.
In the midst of all this monied activity come now several County Council members with outstretched hands, offering themselves as wise investments in the county's political future, hoping to garner a little "seed money" with which to launch their personal great political leaps forward.
As much a part of political life as fund-raisers are, these mid-term affairs by various council members took many political activists and regular contributors to the Democratic Party by surprise.
Until this year, such events had all but vanished, effectively outlawed by the party leadership that until 1978 controlled every seat in the county, ran all party campaigns, set the county Democratic slate and dictated fundraising etiquette.
"In the past you didn't do it (hold a mid-term fund-raiser). It was considered a faux pas," said one past party activist recently. "What happens is you'd get these people with their own treasuries and they'd lose all discipline and go running off after seats that they weren't supposed to have and mess everything up. That's what's happening now."
The recurrence of the mid-term fund-raiser is further indication for those who still need it that no cohesive party organization currently exists to regulate such matters as was done in the past. That fact alone has many of the party regulars who were accustomed to slate politics running for cover and looking to squirrel away some cash.
The fund-raising efforts are also confirmation that the party's free-for-all atmosphere, which some view as a sign of the party's revival and others its continued decline, will quite likely persist through 1982 elections unless a new party strategist emerges or an old one resurfaces to match personalities with political office.
While not every council member has set up a treasury and begun campaigning for some as-yet-unspecified post, by the beginning of next month, three members of the council -- its ambitious chairman Parris Glendening, its most adept political posturer Sue V. Mills, its cigar-smoking good ole boy William Amonett -- will have sponsored such affairs. Several more by others are expected in the coming months.
All of the politicians who are raising money are considering challenging the popular Republican incumbent, County Executive Lawrence J. Hogan, when his term expires in 1982.
Political wisdom has it that any candidate for executive needs at least two years to establish the name recognition and a couple of hundred thousand dollars in financial resources necessary to win a primary and general election, particularly if the race involves unseating an incumbent.
But because Hogan, a formidable campaign opponent with the instincts of a street fighter, has repeatedly said he wants to run for re-election, all of the current fundraisers are willing to commit themselves to definitely running for county executive.
All hope to position themselves in front of what is expected to be a large pack, in case Hogan decides to run for statewide office, possibly governor or senator, as many of his political advisors are urging.
"I'm not going to commit political suicide, but I want to be ready if I decide to go (for county executive)," said Glendening, who at this juncture is running the hardest to get in place for a possible county executive's race. Glendening is following a scenario set in 1974 by then-council member Winfield M. Kelly Jr., who won the executive's seat from an incumbent that year.
Mills said she is still assessing the possibilities and will make a decision on her political future by the spring. In her case, the options include running for Congress if a new district is drawn this year that includes a substantial section of her home turf in southern Prince George's, running for county executive or reclaiming her current County Council seat.
Amonett was somewhat more hesitant in discussing his plans. During a recent Democratic Party public hearing that Amonett attended, State Sen. Arthur Dorman leaned over to him with a sly smile and asked loudly enough for several others to hear, "You're having a fundraiser? What're you running for, Bill?"
Said a slightly red-faced Amonett on turning to his questioner, "A little seed money, you know, a little seed money. Got to keep the options open."