Debate over the wisdom of withdrawing from Iraq did not just flare in Congress last week -- it provided lively fodder for those from Maryland seeking to join the august institution, as well as for a body with no say in the matter, the Baltimore City Council.
Oz Bengur -- who has one of the best names in politics, if nothing else -- announced that he would propose a specific plan for troop withdrawal Wednesday.
Bengur, among the many, many Democrats seeking to replace Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin in the 3rd Congressional District, said his announcement is timed to coincide with President Bush's planned appearance in Baltimore at a fundraiser for Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, who is running for the U.S. Senate.
"The president's 'stay the course' message is a slogan in search of a policy and not a plan to bring our troops home with the honor they have earned," said Bengur, who has a son, Marine Capt. Noah Bengur, deployed in Iraq.
Meanwhile, Cardin, who is leading other Democrats in fundraising for next year's Senate race, took some flak last week from two of his opponents over his stance on Iraq.
Allan Lichtman, a history professor making his first run for public office, accused Cardin of siding with Bush at crucial moments.
Although Cardin voted against the 2002 resolution authorizing force in Iraq, he later voted against a measure that expressed "the sense of Congress that the president should develop a plan for the withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Iraq," Lichtman said.
Former congressman and NAACP leader Kweisi Mfume criticized Cardin for the same vote and called on him to support the resolution of Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) calling for withdrawal from Iraq.
As it turned out, Cardin did not get that chance, because Republican leaders forced a vote on a different measure, which Cardin characterized as "an egregious act of political grandstanding."
"I continue to speak out against the president's mismanagement of the war, and I have called on President Bush to bring America a plan to bring the troops home safely and responsibly," Cardin said in a statement after the vote.
Others who felt compelled to speak out last week included members of the Baltimore City Council, who unanimously approved a resolution that urges Bush and Congress to "commence a humane, orderly, immediate and comprehensive withdrawal" of military personnel and bases from Iraq.
Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor, had no comment on the action, a spokesman said.
New Regent for University System
Alicia Coro-Hoffman, a retired senior executive in the U.S. Department of Education, was appointed to the University System of Maryland's Board of Regents last week by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. at a time when the board is forging connections with elementary and high school programs.
Hoffman will replace Adela M. Acosta, a former Maryland elementary school principal who left the board to work for Ehrlich as director of the Office of Intergovernmental Relations.
"Her experience with K through 12 and the Department of Education will be very valuable in terms of building stronger collaboration in our elementary and secondary partnerships," said William E. Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland.
"I hope I can be of some help," Hoffman said. She has a particular interest in the education of Hispanic children, she said.
Hoffman was born in Cuba and came to the United States as a toddler. She earned a master of education degree from the University of Maryland and began teaching English as a second language in Montgomery County schools. She moved to the federal agency that became the Department of Education, becoming a senior executive in a career that focused on school improvement, bilingual education and preventing discrimination.
Acosta, meanwhile, has been mentioned as a possible running mate for Ehrlich, now that Michael S. Steele has other plans.
Donate Because I'm the Enemy
Maryland Sen. Brian E. Frosh leaves no ambiguity about why he thinks supporters should donate money to his upcoming campaign efforts: because he's been cast in the role of Ehrlich's archenemy.
On the cover of an invitation that went out for a Dec. 8 event, Frosh (D-Montgomery) includes quotes from three newspapers praising his work and a fourth from Ehrlich: "I am going to take him down."
Frosh said he didn't know what precisely the campaign money will be used for. He said he's still mulling a run for attorney general.
The Other Michael Steele
Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele now has a rudimentary Web site for his Senate run, www.michaelsteeleformaryland.com.
But best not to stop short when typing in the address -- www.michaelsteele.com takes you somewhere else entirely. That site features a prominent photo of a young boy, presumably also named Michael Steele, whom we're guessing is not related to the lieutenant governor, and a cat.
Links on the site take visitors to many other pictures, including those from Christmas 2002 and a trip to Georgia in 2003.
Staff writer Matthew Mosk contributed to this story.