Raised eyebrows and ruffled feathers were the order of the day on the second floor of Maryland's State House yesterday, as several members of Gov. Harry Hughes' executive staff received their copies of a letter sent by House Speaker Benjamin L. Cardin to state "opinion leaders."

The letter, part of Cardin's effort to raise his name recognition around Maryland and to boost his 1986 gubernatorial chances, was a soft-sell attempt to highlight his record as speaker.

But on the second floor, it didn't sit too well, particularly the parts where Cardin boasted of his role in opposing Hughes' tax increase proposals last year and his leadership in passing legislation to protect the Chesapeake Bay and increase local education aid.

"I fought the governor's tax increases, and as speaker of the House, I led the effort to make government operate more efficiently on the revenues it had," Cardin wrote.

"At the same time, we initiated a bold new plan for cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay and passed the largest single increase in state funding for education in Maryland's history."

Some of the Hughes aides who received the letter were not pleased that Cardin seemed to be taking credit for initiatives proposed by the governor.

And, needless to say, they didn't like being reminded of their boss' defeats on taxes.