The Senate's executive nominations committee unanimously approved and sent to the full Senate today the appointment of Del. Lorraine M. Sheehan (D-Prince George's) as secretary of state, but not before Sen. B.W. Mike Donovan (D-Prince George's), who had wanted the job himself, publicly confessed that he was "embarrassed and humiliated" by the way Gov. Harry Hughes chose Sheehan instead.
Donovan told the committee that he and the other Prince George's senators had expected that Hughes would be "grateful and appreciative" for running his reelection campaign in the county, where he received 76 percent of the vote, when the time for appointments came around.
Instead, Donovan said, "at what appears to be his first opportunity to do so, he stuck it in our ears."
Donovan had been on a list of six candidates suggested for the post by the senators from Prince George's, and last week's surprise appointment of Sheehan, who was not on the list, was seen as an effort by Hughes to demonstrate that he would not let the county's senators dictate to him.
Donovan, in a speech he later said was intended to "bare my soul," said he would not formally oppose Sheehan's appointment, nor would he join in calls to reduce what will be her $45,000-a-year salary, "since to do these things would be to subvert the principles I've used to guide my life."
Sheehan, 45, who testified briefly before Donovan, said afterward, "I think he embarrassed himself a lot more than he embarrassed me."
Donovan's unexpectedly dramatic rebuke of the governor was followed by the customary praise from other Democrats, most notable among them Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), the former state Senate president and the man Donovan succeeded in the Senate.
Hoyer, who gave Sheehan the news last summer that she was off the election ticket headed by himself and Donovan, commended Hughes for appointing her, saying any differences between them were history, and joked that Hughes also had not consulted him about the appointment.
Donovan, a longtime adversary of Sheehan's, said that Hughes, who once served in the Senate, should have been aware of the "established pecking order" but instead "reached down beyond me into the district" to pick Sheehan, who had not sought the job. In his speech, Donovan referred to Sheehan only as the "nominee."