Gene Raynor's experience in administering elections was touted by Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. when he presented Raynor as his choice for a seat on the State Board of Elections.
Republicans, however, haven't always had such kind things to say about Raynor, a Democrat with close ties to Comptroller William Donald Schaefer (D).
After a 30-year stint with the Baltimore City Board of Elections, Raynor was appointed administrator of the state elections board in 1987. He held that post for nearly a decade.
In 1995, toward the end of Raynor's tenure, then-Maryland GOP chairman Joyce Lyons Terhes called for his resignation. The move was prompted by a Baltimore Sun report that Raynor had continued to vote in Baltimore elections while living in Harford County for two years.
During that period, Raynor reportedly paid the lower Harford County insurance rates on three cars he owned.
The Republican Party also had criticized Raynor the previous year.
After a narrow loss in the 1994 governor's race to Democrat Parris N. Glendening, Republican candidate Ellen R. Sauerbrey said Raynor could not be trusted to oversee her challenge of the results.
Sauerbrey cited another Sun story that raised questions about the employment of Paul L. Oliver, an elections board worker whom some co-workers dubbed "the invisible man" because he rarely came in to the office.
At the time he was hired by the elections board, Oliver reportedly was a waiter at a restaurant co-owned by Raynor. A few months later, Raynor helped Oliver buy a restaurant in Baltimore's Little Italy.
"Phantom employees -- like phantom votes -- are unacceptable in every election," Sauerbrey said in a statement in which she called on Raynor to "step aside."
Raynor said at the time that Oliver earned his salary by delivering voting materials to election offices across the state.
Among Raynor's staunchest defenders during the episode was Schaefer, then the outgoing governor.
Ehrlich spokeswoman Shareese DeLeaver said last week that the governor stands by his pick.
"Among Democrats and Republicans alike, there should be no questions about Gene Raynor's experience and qualifications," DeLeaver said. "This is a man who has 40 years of experience that cannot be disputed."
For months, perhaps years, Schaefer's favorite target was Glendening. Now Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley (D) has the honor of being the object of the comptroller's colorful ire. During the Board of Public Works meeting this month, the cantankerous former governor criticized O'Malley for comments made during a recent fundraiser for Democratic presidential hopeful John F. Kerry.
"I remember after the attacks of September 11, as mayor of the city, I was very, very worried about al Qaeda and still am," O'Malley said, according to published reports. "But I'm even more worried about the actions and inactions of the Bush administration."
Schaefer, never one to pull his punches, said that "in a time of war, that's treason."
"If you don't have love for your own country and you don't respect the president, who do you have respect for?" he groused. "For him to say that he trusts the enemy even more than he trusts us is hard to believe."
Later, Schaefer said he was speaking about how he and others had interpreted O'Malley's comment, and he noted that O'Malley "never tried to clarify it."
O'Malley also drew a trademark Schaefer scolding recently for saying that he was not opposed to a Major League Baseball franchise for Washington -- something that Baltimore Orioles officials think would hurt their team.
"I don't understand that," an exasperated Schaefer said of the Baltimore mayor's stance.