ADemocrat whose ouster last year from the Maryland State Board of Elections sparked months of legislative and courtroom drama may be returning to the panel.

Last week, the Maryland Democratic Party sent the name of former board member Bobbie S. Mack to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) for reappointment to the five-member panel, along with that of Thomas J. Fleckenstein, an Anne Arundel County lawyer.

A law passed this year by the Maryland General Assembly allows the out-of-power party to put forward nominees for board slots reserved for their members.

That wasn't the case last year, when Ehrlich had the power to fill Democratic and Republican seats -- and used it.

In July 2004, Ehrlich replaced Mack, a former elections official in Prince George's County, with Gene Raynor of Baltimore, a Democrat who had supported his election.

Raynor joined Republicans on the board in pushing for the removal of Elections Administrator Linda H. Lamone, a Democrat appointed by Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D). A judge blocked the effort, and Democrats in the legislature retaliated by changing the appointments law.

Just how soon Mack gets back on the board is unclear, however. Derek Walker, a Democratic Party spokesman, said he is hopeful Ehrlich will make the appointment official immediately. "There's no reason to delay it," Walker said, noting that the board is scheduled to meet Tuesday.

Ehrlich spokesman Henry Fawell didn't seem to share that sense of urgency Friday.

"There's no legal deadline in the law as to when these appointments are made," Fawell said, offering little elaboration.

Furor Over Candidate Service Ads Not New

Democrats last week pounced on Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele (R) for appearing in public service ads on television while exploring a bid for U.S. Senate.

Steele is not the first Maryland lieutenant governor to be accused of such political opportunism. His Democratic predecessor, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, drew fire four years ago for appearing in public service ads on the same subject -- auto theft -- that Steele is addressing.

The Townsend ads aired on radio as she was gearing up to run for governor. Her bid against Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) was, of course, unsuccessful.

Slamming Ehrlich on Female Appointees

Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D), appearing Friday in Annapolis, took several swings at the governor for his record on women's issues.

Among the swipes: Duncan pointed to state rankings issued by the Center for Women in Government and Civil Society assessing the share of women appointees in state government.

In 1999, before Ehrlich took office, Maryland ranked 14th. By 2003, Maryland had fallen to 47th.

Duncan offered his own family as a contrast. He was one of 13 children, he said, in a family that included seven sisters.

"Women were very well represented in the house I grew up in," Duncan said.

Two More to Make Senate Bids Official

Two new candidates for U.S. Senate, both Montgomery County Democrats, have penciled in dates to announce their decisions.

Forensic psychiatrist Lise Van Susteren, the sister of Fox News personality Greta Van Susteren, plans to make her bid known Thursday.

Meanwhile, American University historian Allan J. Lichtman has reserved space at a North Bethesda middle school for Sept. 28, according to an e-mail from his wife, Karyn Strickler, that is circulating among Democrats.

"Allan will be running on the model of progressive professor Paul Wellstone's path-breaking victory in Minnesota," Strickler wrote, referring to the late senator.

Both are expected to join a field that includes Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, former congressman and former NAACP leader Kweisi Mfume and community activist A. Robert Kaufman, all of Baltimore.