There was some not-so-quiet snickering in the Montgomery County camp of Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis last week when Susan Hoffmann endorsed presidential candidate Sen. Paul Simon of Illinois.

Some of the pols working for Dukakis' candidacy said that Hoffmann, one of the county's lobbyists in Annapolis and County Executive Sidney Kramer's 1986 campaign manager, had said she would support Dukakis. They say she jumped candidates when she realized she wouldn't get on the slate of delegates, much coveted as a way of getting to the Democratic Party's national convention in Atlanta.

According to Sally McGarry, county coordinator for Dukakis, Hoffmann approached her early on and said "I am with you . . . I want to be a Dukakis delegate." McGarry said she wasn't in a position to promise the delegate slots and she could only tell people they were welcome to try.

McGarry said that Hoffmann called her before announcing her support of Simon to tell her of the endorsement so that "I wouldn't find out by reading it in the newspapers." McGarry said that Hoffmann told her that the Simon campaign made her an attractive offer. Hoffmann will be county deputy campaign manager for Simon and is on the slate of Simon delegates.

Hoffmann conceded that she "was interested in Dukakis . . . I was considering supporting him." She said she never made a commitment and that when it came time to make her choice, the deciding factor was that she knew Simon. She had met him while she was a staff member for the White House conference for the family and was impressed with what he had to say and how he treated people. "When push came to shove and I needed to make a decision, my experience with Paul Simon won out . . . I felt that if I had to really justify my support, I could better do that with Simon."

Getting on the delegate slate had nothing to do with it, she said. "I could always hop a plane and go to Atlanta to visit my cousin. That is not the reason," she said.

Former Washington County circuit judge Paul Ottinger, 72, will be taken to a minimum-security federal prison in Florida next week to begin serving a 5 1/2-year sentence for mail and bank fraud, officials said Monday.AFTER WORDS "The what? I am not familiar with that."

-- Montgomery County Council member Michael L. Gudis' response to a question at a congressional candidates' debate on the Central American peace plan drawn up by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias. The next day, Gudis withdrew from the race for the 8th Congressional District seat.

Grapevine items were written by staff writer Jo-Ann Armao and news services.