Maryland's new Republican chairman John Kane did everything he could to push Gov. Parris N. Glendening and Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend out of state politics. After all, Kane was a big backer of new Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

Now, it's payback time for Kane. Imagine Kane's surprise when he learned that Glendening and Townsend had hired his moving company to pack their photos and clean out their personal effects from their offices in the State House.

"I just love the irony of it," Kane said. "I guess I'll do just about anything for a move job!"

Republicans Get New Director

The Maryland Republican Party has a new executive director to steer its statewide, legislative and local election efforts, part of Kane's move to clean house and expand the Republican minority in the General Assembly.

Kane said Eric Sutton, former head of the Delaware State Republican Party, has the qualifications he has been seeking: running a party in a robust two-party state.

Over the next four years, Kane said, his goal is to turn Maryland's House and Senate, where Democrats command an overwhelming majority, into "a much more competitive environment."

That's exactly what new House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) fears. At a luncheon last week, he warned fellow Democrats that incoming Ehrlich may talk of bipartisanship but he is already figuring out which Democrats to target in the next election.

As evidence, Busch pointed out that the only campaign sign left hanging in the Republican's headquarters is that of Del. Leroy E. Myers, a Republican who ousted Busch's predecessor and mentor Casper R. Taylor Jr., the state's longest-serving House speaker since Colonial times.

"What do you think that message is? It's, 'We took out your speaker of the House.' It infuriates me," Busch said, adding that for as long as that sign hangs in the window, "it will grate on me personally."

Kane called Busch "a little too sensitive." If Busch is looking for someone to blame for Taylor's loss, Kane suggested he look no further than his counterpart in the state Senate, President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Prince George's).

"If anything screwed Cas Taylor, it was redistricting," Kane said.

Miller was one of the major architects of a plan to redraw the state's political boundaries after the 2000 Census. The courts stepped in, charging that Miller and Glendening had unconstitutionally gerrymandered districts to reward and punish lawmakers. As a result of the court's new plan, Taylor and Myers were thrown into the same district.

Enough Is Enough?

Ehrlich may not have as much clout with President Bush's administration as he had hoped.

Not long after Ehrlich said during the Republican Governors Association convention in California that he would be "lobbying hard" to bring the new Department of Homeland Security to Maryland, the Bush administration announced last week that it would locate the department in Virginia.

After raising more than $1 million for the governor-elect in a Baltimore fundraiser during the campaign, maybe Bush figured he had done enough.

At Least Getting a Laugh

Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele may have a quotable way with words, but he misjudged his audience last week.

Addressing the Democratic-controlled House of Delegates on the opening day of the General Assembly session, Steele was in high speech-making gear, telling lawmakers that they all were there for one reason and one reason only. "It's not Republican or Democrat, it's the people of Maryland," Steele said.

Then, apparently forgetting the setting, Steele wound up with, "Thank you for honoring me with your vote." He recovered nicely, though, sending delegates into fits of laughter when he quickly added, "I know some of you didn't, but we're all together now, and that's what matters."

Staff writer Lori Montgomery contributed to this report.