So maybe his timing wasn't all that great. Glenn Ivey, the political scientist, will admit that in retrospect.

As chief counsel to Sen. Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.), Ivey, who cut his teeth on the Whitewater scandal, was positioned in 1998 to advise his boss, who would take part in the great legal and political debate of the 1990s: President Clinton's impeachment hearings and trial.

"There was a role there that not too many people get a shot at and certainly not African Americans," said Ivey, a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School.

But then Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D) came calling and presented Ivey with another potentially historic opportunity. If he took Glendening's offer to become chairman of Maryland's Public Service Commission, Ivey would have the chance to tackle the deregulation of the electrical power industry.

Impeachment? Deregulation? Impeachment? Deregulation?

Ivey, 38, who has made no secret of his interest in running for public office, chose deregulation and state government over the national stage. Last year, he became the chairman of the state agency that oversees gas, electric, telecommunications, water, sewage disposal, steam heating and certain transportation companies operating in Maryland.

Glenn Ivey, the up and coming politician, said he does not regret the move that has left him dealing with less cosmic issues than he encountered on Capitol Hill. They are, he said, just as important to him.

"I got tired of the dance," said Ivey, who was a federal prosecutor before going to Capitol Hill in 1987 as a senior legislative assistant to Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.). "After the Democrats lost control of Congress, all we really were in a position to do is block things. . . . It wasn't really what I went into public service to do."

In 2000, Ivey, who lives with his wife, Jolene, and five children in Cheverly, will become a more familiar face to Maryland residents, as the Public Service Commission launches a campaign to educate people about electrical deregulation.

"It will be like a B.B. King tour, barn-storming the country--50 cities in 50 days," said Ivey, who grew up in Prince William County and has lived in Prince George's for the past 10 years.

Ivey came to Glendening's attention through Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes (D-Md.). Ivey said he doesn't know Glendening well but had a background in telecommunications law and regulation, handling a range of legislative matters on the subject when he worked for Daschle.

Ivey didn't leave his future ambitions behind when he came to work in Maryland, and may well garner substantial public name recognition by his work on the commission.

He hopes to run for Prince George's County state's attorney in 2002. He said he will resign his position as chairman of the Public Service Commission before running so there is no conflict of interest about raising money while he is head of the agency.

But for now, Ivey said he will concentrate on the coming months. The electrical industry opens up for competition next summer.

"I really just need to get this July 1 date out of the way for the moment," Ivey said. "We've just got so much on our plates."

CAPTION: Glenn Ivey is chairman of Maryland's Public Service Commission.