Odds and ends from the 1986 session of the Maryland General Assembly, which at the half-way point seems to have produced little but a collection of odds and ends.
*It's an open question which list contains more names, the one with candidates to replace Benjamin L. Cardin as House speaker next year, or the one with possible running mates for Democratic gubernatorial candidate and Baltimore Mayor William D. Schaefer. Sometimes it seems that every legislator except Howard County Republican Del. V. Lanny Harchenhorn and Allegany County Democratic Del. William Byrnes has been on one or both lists.
The latest "short list" of running mates for Schaefer includes Senate President Melvin A. Steinberg (D-Baltimore County) and Del. R. Clayton Mitchell Jr. (D-Eastern Shore), the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
The mention of Mitchell has people in the political camp of gubernatorial candidate Stephen H. Sachs dreaming up conspiracy theories. The thinking is this: If Mitchell, one of two leading candidates for House speaker, is tapped by Schaefer, it will leave as the leading speaker possibility Del. Paul Weisengoff, an old-school, South Baltimore pol.
The selection of Weisengoff as speaker, Sachs' people believe, would then lead to the election by the legislature of former State Sen. Harry McGuirk as state treasurer when William S. James retires. McGuirk, who currently lobbies on behalf of Schaefer, earned a reputation in the legislature that makes Weisengoff look like a member of the party's reform wing.
If Schaefer and McGuirk are elected governor and treasurer, they would have a majority voice on the three-member Board of Public Works, which controls most state contracting.
The combination, Sachs predicted recently, would turn the board into a mega-version of the Baltimore city trustees, the quasi-public group that controls a $100 million loan bank. The attorney general is critical of the trustees for sometimes rewarding the mayor's political backers.
*Normally genteel politicians from Montgomery County are demonstrating this session that they can play nasty politics with the best of them.
With four Montgomery County state Senate seats being hotly contested by veteran legislators, the intramural invective has tended to get a bit out of hand. The low point came when one delegate, who shall remain unnamed, suggested to a flu-stricken Prince George's County colleague that he sneeze on her opponent to keep her from campaigning for a few days.
*Gov. Harry Hughes, who believes that the worst of the savings and loan political fallout is behind him, has scheduled a fundraiser immediately after the legislative session, when he plans to enter the race for the U.S. Senate.
A poll taken by one of his Democratic rivals, however, shows that Hughes is favored by only 9 percent of those surveyed.
However, things were worse for Hughes in 1978, when he appeared to have that same level of support three weeks before the gubernatorial primary -- which he won.
*The Maryland Republican Party is still looking for a gubernatorial candidate, and may have to settle for Prince George's County Del. Thomas Mooney, a Takoma Park lawmaker who switched parties last fall.
Mooney, whose legislative career has been regarded by his colleagues as quixotic at best, was thinking of running for the U.S. Senate, but recently met with top GOP officials to discuss a gubernatorial campaign.
*A final note: Things may pick up, because when the bill to ban records with obscene lyrics gets a hearing in the Senate, Frank Zappa may come to testify. If Zappa, who records on the Barking Pumpkin label, can't liven up this session, nobody can.