Since he announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for governor three weeks ago, Robert A. Pascal has chafed over a lack of publicity for his campaign.
Wednesday, Pascal, the Anne Arundel county executive, will take his first political stab at Gov. Harry Hughes. The subject is auto emissions inspections, a source of much annoyance to Hughes. Pascal's method will be to present an "expert," who will tell the media that Maryland might not need the emissions inspections in order to comply with federal law.
Pascal has scheduled a lunch at which H.K. Jones of Weston Inc., who will fly in from West Chester, Pa., will brief the press on why the EPA's current method for counting hydrocarbons may be faulty.
Jones' expenses will be paid for by Anne Arundel County. Today, a Pascal aide said it was his understanding that the lunch also will be paid for by the county. Sen. Harry McGuirk, a possible opponent to Hughes in the Democratic primary, is a cosponsor of the lunch.
"It's a legitimate county expense," Pascal said. "The cost of these inspections will impact on the people of the county."
Others might argue that the county is paying for something that should come out of Pascal's campaign fund.
"I'm surprised he's handling it that way," said one Democratic legislator who is not a Hughes supporter. "This is part of the campaign."
Pascal says that Jones will testify that before Maryland goes ahead with the federally required inspection program it should question the EPA's formula for determining the amount of hydrocarbons in the air. Jones contends that under a newer formula, Maryland might not need the inspection program.
"All we're saying is that the EPA should be approached before we go ahead and spend all this money," Pascal said.
"He's always looking for an issue," Hughes said of Pascal's claims that he has not looked hard enough for a way around mandatory inspections this year. "I'm still concerned about the federal sanctions and about the public's health."