Mark S. Seigel, president of the Maryland State Medical Society, is toying with the idea of running for the General Assembly in 2006 out of frustration with the direction of the debate over medical malpractice insurance.
Seigel, an obstetrician-gynecologist from Montgomery County, was difficult to pin down during an interview on some basic questions, however. Among them: Which chamber would he want to join, and which party would he seek to represent?
"I have to speak to some advisers and get some help," Seigel allowed. "I'm trying to find a spot."
Seigel said he has received one memorable piece of advice thus far: "Run for an office you can win." Whether that means a seat in the Maryland Senate, House of Delegates or a lower office that could be a steppingstone remains unclear.
As for party affiliation, Seigel reports that he is a registered Republican. However, as a gynecologist, he performs abortions -- a fact that may turn off some in the GOP, he acknowledged. Seigel added that his wife is a Democrat.
"My ideas kind of cut across party lines," he said.
Currently, only two of the 188 members of the Maryland General Assembly are physicians: Sen. Andrew P. Harris (R-Baltimore County) and Del. Dan K. Morhaim (D-Baltimore County).
Doctors, who are bracing for an increase of more than 40 percent in their medical malpractice premiums next year, have sought relief from the General Assembly, so far without success.
Good Time Had by a Few
Although most of the Annapolis lobbying corps stayed away from the Republican National Convention last week, there were exceptions. Top-earning lobbyist Gary Alexander made the trip to attend Ehrlich's upscale fundraiser at a downtown New York restaurant owned by Marylander Michael Dana. Also in the restaurant's private suite (which cost $4,000 to enter) were Joel Rozner, a former chief of staff to former governor Parris N. Glendening; Sean Looney of Comcast; Bill Pitcher, who has joined forces with Ehrlich's old Baltimore law firm, Ober-Kaler; and Lee Cowen, the Ehrlich pal-turned-lobbyist who made the most of his trip to New York.
In addition to attending the Ehrlich fundraiser, Cowen appeared at a party thrown for Ehrlich on Wednesday night and one held for Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele on Thursday night. He squeezed in an after-hours drink with Steele at a midtown Manhattan watering hole. And Cowen's lobbying partner, Todd Lamb, joined Ehrlich the following morning on the links for a Republican Governors Association tournament. True to lobbyist form, Lamb managed to post an 85, just a tad worse than Ehrlich, who shot an 81.
Silence Spoke Louder
All last week, while Maryland's delegates to the Republican National Convention hooted and hollered with the speakers addressing the crowds at Madison Square Garden, the usually boisterous Del. Anthony J. O'Donnell stayed silent. This was not by choice. The House minority whip had blown out his vocal cords on the convention's first evening, jeering film director Michael Moore, who made a surprise appearance in the convention hall.
Apparently, his silence paid dividends. On the convention's final night, organizers tapped the delegate from Solomons to take one of the dozen seats on the main stage, directly behind President Bush. He shook hands with the president and got more face time on national television than he ever could have hoped for. So successful was his silence that his fellow delegates left New York wondering whether they'll ever hear from O'Donnell again.
To Those Who Wait
After the Maryland State Board of Elections voted to go into closed session last week, Chairman Gilles Burger invited a half-dozen reporters awaiting the fate of Administrator Linda H. Lamone to make themselves at home in the board room.
"This could take a little while," Burger warned.
Burger proved to be a man of understatement -- and of some hospitality.
Around 5 p.m., about four hours into the closed session, Burger emerged with news that the board was ordering pizzas. Reporters were welcome to join in the order -- though not the meeting -- he said.
Not too much later, staff members at the agency offered to turn on a television for reporters. The game show "Jeopardy!" filled some time, followed by coverage of the Republican National Convention.
A couple of restroom breaks by board members were misinterpreted as the meeting's end, which finally came around 8:30 p.m.
At that point, Burger emerged with this news: The board would make an announcement the following day at noon.