The conviction of Sen. Tommie Broadwater Jr. (D-Prince George's) on charges of illegal trafficking in food stamps has created a scramble not only for his seat in the state Senate but within the Senate, where his position in the leadership is coveted by many.
Broadwater is chairman of a key subcommittee on the Budget and Taxation Committee, a post he got during last year's contest between current Senate President Melvin A. Steinberg and former president James Clark Jr. Naturally, Prince George's County would like to hold on to the chairmanship. Naturally, the black caucus would like to hold on to the chairmanship. Just as naturally, a number of senators would like to fill Broadwater's spot on that committee, which considers the state budget.
Steinberg is refusing to discuss the situation because, until Broadwater is sentenced next month, there is technically no vacancy to fill. But the maneuvering is going on full blast anyway. In all likelihood, Sen. Frank J. Komenda of Prince George's will get Broadwater's subcommittee chairmanship and the vacancy on the committee will go to a second member of the county's delegation, Sen. Leo E. Green of Bowie.
That will not be the end to the movement, however. Many in the Senate expect the chairman of the Finance Committee, Sen. Rosalie S. Abrams (D-Baltimore), to be appointed to a job in Gov. Harry Hughes' administration before the legislature convenes on Jan. 11. If that happens, Sen. Dennis F. Rasmussen (D-Baltimore County) will become chairman of the Finance Committee and Sen. Thomas P. O'Reilly (D-Prince George's) will move from vice chairman of the Judicial Proceedings Committee to become Rasmussen's vice chairman.
That would put the new Prince George's senator on Judicial Proceedings. O'Reilly's vice chairmanship will go to either Sen. Walter M. Baker (D-Cecil), so that Steinberg can placate rural senators who feel they aren't represented in leadership, or to Sen. John A. Pica Jr. (D-Baltimore). Pica would get the slot because Baltimore would lose a leadership post with Abrams departure. Pica, who supported Clark in last year's scramble, is positioning himself to run for Congress and would throw his loyalty completely to Steinberg in return for a leadership job or a switch to a money committee.
Confused? "It's a real scramble," one Prince George's senator said. "But actually, our job is simple: get a guy on Budget and Tax who is going to bring back the most bucks for Prince George's County. That's all we really care about."
There is one other possibility that would make things even more confusing: Sen. Jerome F. Connell Sr. (D-Anne Arundel) is under investigation by federal authorities for possible tax evasion. If Connell ends up stepping down as chairman of the Economic Affairs Committee, Connell's spot would be added to all the maneuvering. One thing about the state Senate, it never gets boring.
Exactly three years from tomorrow, Maryland Democrats will nominate a candidate for governor. No one is more aware of this than Attorney General Stephen H. Sachs and Speaker of the House of Delegates Benjamin L. Cardin, the two unannounced candidates for governor.
Both men spent much of the summer campaigning and organizing their campaigns. In fact, both worked so hard that, with more than 1,000 days left, each occasionally admits to fatigue.
"The problem with this state is that there are 25 things you can go to every night," Cardin said recently. "And no one remembers the things you go to, they only remember the things you don't go to."
Cardin finally took a break to spend a week at Ocean City with his family only to be interrupted by calls from home about the incident involving former delegate Frank M. Conaway, who received unemployment pay from the state for six months.
"Actually, I'm glad you called," Cardin said when a reporter tracked him down late at night to ask about Conaway. "I was having such a good time I was beginning to forget what it's like to be bothered. I needed to be reminded."
Sachs, who took a day off to drive his daughter to college, will finally take a break in October to go overseas for two weeks. When the General Assembly convenes, look for both men to work hard to keep their names before the public. After all, the election is practically right around the corner.
Rumor among Hughes insiders is that the governor will not run for the U.S. Senate in 1986. Instead, he will play the role of party elder and make big dollars as a lawyer. Hughes has been--surprise--noncommittal on the issue.
Hughes staffers were shocked and disappointed when he failed to appear at a going-away party for his longtime friend and aide Michael F. Canning. Canning, Hughes' first chief of staff, left the administration largely because Hughes' wife Patricia does not like him. When Hughes was called about the Canning party, according to staffers, he said he had "a lot of paperwork."