Democrat Timothy M. Kaine's victory in Virginia's race for governor last week provided some new tea leaves for those looking closely at Maryland's race for chief executive next year.

Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, a leading Democratic gubernatorial contender, seized on a similarity with Kaine -- who has also led a large city -- in offering his take on the results.

"It's great to see the former mayor of Richmond win an election in a state that's an indicator of national preferences and desires," O'Malley said in an interview, referring to the post that Kaine held before his election as lieutenant governor.

Left unmentioned were other things that O'Malley has in common with the governor-elect: Irish Catholic roots, opposition to the death penalty and marriage to a judge with a political pedigree (Kaine's wife is the daughter of a former governor; O'Malley's is the daughter of Maryland's attorney general).

Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, O'Malley's Democratic rival, saw some positive indicators about his future in Kaine's victory, too.

Duncan has pledged to make education his top priority if elected. Both Kaine and Jon S. Corzine, the Democrat elected governor Tuesday in New Jersey, emphasized education in their races, Duncan told a Democratic crowd in Arbutus last week.

"Those candidates were talking about education first," Duncan said.

Although it might be premature to start measuring the drapes in Government House, a Baltimore Sun poll last week offered good news for O'Malley and Duncan, showing both with leads over Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) in a hypothetical matchup next November.

Speaking to reporters in Washington on Wednesday about the Virginia results, Ehrlich said he'd been hearing for several weeks that the campaign of Kaine's Republican opponent, Jerry W. Kilgore, was foundering, and so he "was not terribly surprised by the result."

Ehrlich was asked whether he thought the Bush administration was a drag on Kilgore's candidacy and if his strategy for 2006 involves distancing himself from the president.

"I love that phrase, 'Distancing yourself,' " Ehrlich replied. "I don't know what that means."

Ehrlich said there were some Bush policies he agreed with and others he didn't. "To the extent we're in agreement with the president, we welcome his support," he said.

Another All-White Club

Shortly after Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. held a fundraiser at the all-white Elkridge Club in Baltimore, a reporter acting on a tip asked whether Ehrlich's chief legal counsel was a member of the club.

The lawyer, Jervis S. Finney, responded that he was not.

But Finney does hold a membership in the Green Spring Valley Hunt Club, another exclusive Baltimore area institution that club members say has had no black members during its long history. The club, it turns out, has a reciprocal agreement with Elkridge.

Finney confirmed last week that he was a lifelong member of the Green Spring club. Asked whether he objected to the club's apparent failure to break the color barrier, Finney replied, "I guess the answer is, that hasn't been something before me."

By which he meant that he had not been on any leadership committee at the club for at least 30 years, and so he had never been asked to address the issue, he said. Would he like the club to admit its first African American member?

"Certainly," Finney said.

George G. Litz, president of Green Spring, declined to discuss his club's membership Friday, saying only members are privy to that information.

Elkridge, meanwhile, recently admitted its first African American members. The Baltimore Sun reported that developer Theo C. Rodgers and his wife, Blanche, are listed as newly elected members in the club's September newsletter.

A Delegate's Rising Star

The profile of Del. Anthony G. Brown (D-Prince George's) continues to rise. Last week, he was given a prominent speaking role at Baltimore's rededication of its War Memorial Plaza during a ceremony hosted by Mayor Martin O'Malley.

Brown, an Army reservist who recently returned from Iraq, has been mentioned as a possible running mate for both O'Malley and Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan. Brown, meanwhile, has formed an exploratory committee for attorney general.