In time-honored tradition, top Democratic officeholders in Prince George's County have put together the slates of County Council candidates whom they will support leading up to fall elections.
But it is a measure of the evolving nature of politics in the growing suburban county that all the slate-makers couldn't agree -- or agreed to disagree -- on favored candidates for four of the nine council seats. In part, the lack of unanimity was a side effect of pitched battles among some state Senate candidates.
"I guess democracy is breaking out," joked Sen. Thomas Patrick O'Reilly. "We can't all agree on who are the best council persons."
Another Democratic leader explained: "We're dealing with people with gigantic egos here. And it's different now. It's an alliance, rather than having strict discipline imposed."
County Executive Parris N. Glendening, who took a leading role in assembling the ticket, found quick agreement among officeholders that they wouldn't support the reelection effort of council member Anthony J. Cicoria, who faces an October trial on charges of theft and tax evasion. But he could not hammer out an agreement on who should replace Cicoria with the state senators who represent parts of councilmanic District 2.
Glendening and O'Reilly settled on supporting Margaret Mallino, the mayor of University Park. But Sen. Arthur Dorman supports Takoma Park Mayor Stephen J. Del Guidice, and Sen. Decatur W. Trotter is backing Doyle Niemann, a Democratic central committee member from Mount Rainier.
Trotter, who faces a reelection challenge from former state senator Tommie Broadwater Jr., considers Niemann an asset to his Senate campaign because he can help pull in votes in areas where Trotter does not feel especially strong.
In the race to fill the seat held by Floyd E. Wilson Jr., who opted for the county executive's race, Glendening is backing Glenarden Mayor James C. Fletcher Jr., while Trotter threw his support to Donjuan Lee Williams. The result is Trotter finds himself left off most top-to-bottom tickets in the county.
There was not accord, either, in councilmanic District 4, in which Richard J. Castaldi, of Greenbelt, is seeking reelection. Glendening supports Castaldi, but Sen. Leo Green, of Bowie, and the three incumbent House of Delegates members decided after an acrimonious debate to make no endorsement.
While Glendening is not supporting the reelection bid of council member Sue V. Mills, he hasn't recruited a candidate to oppose her, either.
The top leaders' slate does include council incumbents Frank P. Casula, Jo Ann T. Bell, Hilda R. Pemberton and F. Kirwan Wineland. Anne T. MacKinnon, who was appointed to the council when James Herl resigned after pleading guilty to cocaine possession, also won a place on the slate.
Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., a frequent council critic, played down the slate-making differences. "We're together," Miller said. "It's taken a little longer this year because we wanted to make sure the umbrella extended to all segments of the Prince George's population."