Maryland Gov. Harry Hughes, continuing to shed what has appeared to be an apolitical style of leadership, has decided to appoint Prince George's County Del. John W. Wolfgang to the state parole commission.
The appointment complies with a request by the head of the county's Senate delegation, Thomas V. Mike Miller.
Miller wanted Wolfgang, the vice chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and the brother-in-law of recently retired Secretary of State Fred Wineland, moved to the parole board so that Del. William R. McCaffery, who represents the same south county district as Miller, could be named vice chairman of the Environmental Matters Committee.
The vacancy created by Wolfgang's impending resignation, after 12 years in the House, also gives Miller another political card to play: getting Democratic Central Committee Chairman Gary Alexander appointed to Wolfgang's House seat.
The appointment marked the fourth time in the past year that Hughes has played ball with the Prince George's politicians. Last January he helped them during redistricting; in June, he appointed Sen. John J. Garrity to a judgeship, and in July he went to Prince George's to find a successor to Wineland as secretary of state.
"It really is surprising," said one member of the House leadership. "I'm not sure why he's so tight with Prince George's all of a sudden."
Miller said he felt the answer was not that difficult: "When Harry Hughes was elected governor he felt he had run a lonely campaign and been neglected by the politicians--and he was right. So he thought he had the right to govern alone. But he found out that wasn't effective and he changed. He knows he needs our help just like we need his."
Some politicians had speculated that Hughes, who became far more activist during the election year, would slide back into his shell after the election. This appointment, along with his admitted desire for a greater role in national politics and his willingness to spend more time with legislators, would seem to indicate he will continue an activist role in his second term.
The announcement of Wolfgang's appointment and McCaffery's promotion, along with the appointment of Baltimore County Del. Arthur S. Alperstein as vice chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, will not be made until Wednesday, when the legislature convenes. But word slipped out today after Wolfgang met with Secretary of Public Safety and Correctional Services Thomas W. Schmidt.