MORE OFTEN THAN not, any similarity between the governors of Maryland and Virginia has been purely titular--with marked differences in executive style, outlook and pace far more likely when it comes to addressing either issues or general assemblies. But darned if we don't detect an echo somewhere between Annapolis and Richmond these days.
For starters, rare is the day in January when both states begin their legislative sessions with new governors. But this year, Charles S. Robb is the new governor of Virginia, while in Maryland, the governorship has been turned over to a "new" Harry Hughes, said to be much more than a shadow of his old low-profile self. And both are Democrats, moving at impressive speeds to deliver unto their Democrat-controlled legislatures long lists of important proposals.
This may have something to do with another coincidence of interests: this is an even year with an odd turn of events that puts both legislatures into the campaign season. Normally, Virginia's lawmakers are elected for two-year terms--but thanks to the non-miracle of reapportionment in the Old Dominion, those delegates who are just unpacking in Richmond will be making hasty U-turns back to the campaign trails before you know it.
Thanks, too, to the policy revolutions of the Reagan administration and the pressures of the economy, Govs. Robb and Hughes have been vigorously exploring ways for their states to make do with less, as well as to do more where the federal government does less; and to respond to widespread constituent concern about crime.
One of the most significant similarities in terms of the Maryland-Virginia-D.C. axis is the emphasis that both governors are putting on transportation needs--including proposals for greater spending on the roads and rapid rails in their states. Gov. Robb, while stopping short of offering specific tax-increase proposals, has said he is "prepared to sign a measure" that meets what he described as essential highway requirements; and he has called for the addition of $7.7 million in construction funds that his predecessor had cut from the budget for the Metro rail system. Gov. Hughes, meanwhile, is supporting a tax increase on the pump price of gasoline and proposes to spend more than $100 million on transportation, most of it to repair roads and bridges.
These constructive coincidences can be undercut, of course, if both legislatures end up simultaneously misbehaving--dividing into rural-vs.-suburban/urban factions for battles royal over roads and rails, tax increases or approaches to crime and punishment. Still, for a region that looks to both Annapolis and Richmond for critical decisions affecting its fortunes, 1982 is off to an encouraging start in both capitals.