Maryland Gov. William Donald Schaefer has irked Eastern Shore lawmakers with an off-color remark about the region that voted against him in the last election.

As Schaefer made his way down the center aisle of the House chamber past a group of Eastern Shore delegates and senators Friday, he reportedly leaned over and said, "How's that {expletive}-house of an Eastern Shore?"

"The comment was somewhat offensive to the delegation," said Sen. Lewis R. Riley (R-Wicomico), who was standing next to freshman Del. K. Bennett Bozman (D-Worcester) when the remark was made.

Riley said the group of lawmakers was stunned by Schaefer's comment. "I consider it offensive to an area I take great pride in. I'm just sorry it happened," Riley said.

Asked if he thought the governor was trying to be funny, Riley said, "If he was, it wasn't amusing."

Paul E. Schurick, the governor's press secretary, said he did not know about the remark and would not comment.

The remark was made during a joint session for the swearing-in of state Treasurer Lucille Maurer.

The legislature's highest-ranking member from the Eastern Shore, House Speaker R. Clayton Mitchell Jr. (D-Kent), could not be reached for comment. But those who spoke with him afterward said he "hit the roof" when he heard what the governor had said, the Baltimore Sun reported in yesterday's editions.