One of Larry Hogan's favorite jobs, to hear him tell it, was editing The Investigator, the monthly magazine of the FBI. Hogan has been a successful lawyer and politician, but he thinks of himself first of all as a writer, and in his work at the FBI he did more writing than most agents do.
He joined the FBI when he was a senior in college, just married and badly in need of a job, and pushed a messenger buggy. Though he could have become an agent later, he remained a research aide -- "wisely," he still believes -- until he finished night law school. Only after law school did he go to FBI Training School and became an agent, first in Charlotte, N.C., and later in California. He loved the work, and the respect FBI agents received then from local police departments.
Hogan is still proud of his work on The Investigator and proud that he won a cash award from the FBI for a suggestion that the bureau install a pneumatic tube messenger system, which allowed the replacement of four or five messengers. He admits that there was "a stultification of dissent" in the bureau then, but he also insists it "was open for new ideas of how to do things." Still, one doubts that in the FBI of the 1950s the best way to move up was to contribute regularly to the suggestion box or turn down promotions.
When Hogan left the FBI in 1958, he had never voted; yet it seemed natural for him to register as a Democrat and to support John F. Kennedy for president. His father had been a hanger-on in Democratic politics in East Boston, many years before, and had gotten his job as a bookbinder at the General Printing Office in 1933 through Democratic political pull.
It must have been a tough time for the senior Hogan, who lost his job in Boston and then lived for two years in a rooming house in Washington before he could afford to have his family join him. He was a strong Democrat: years later, after his father died, Hogan asked his mother if his father would have voted for him, now that he was a Republican. "He might have," she said.
So at age 8, Larry Hogan began living in Brookland, a pleasant Washington neighborhood off Michigan Avenue NE, which was then all white and which is today mostly black, a neighborhood then and now comfortable and respectable but not fashionable. He worked while he went to college and law school, got a master's degree (thesis subject: public relations aspects of public utility rates) and did course work for a PhD. When the FBI brought him back to Washington, he moved to Prince George's County, and since 1967 has lived in a house off Central Avenue between Seat Pleasant and the Beltway -- an area whose large undeveloped parcels of land give it a rural look and the large majority of whose residents are black.
Hogan had become a Republican by 1960, abandoning his father's party without regret: "I was more comfortable with what Nixon was saying." His political activity took on a familiar pattern: working against the ins. As a Goldwater supporter, he fought the small Prince George's Republican establishment, and won in 1964. Two years later, he took on the dominant Prince George's Democratic machine and came within 4 percent of ousting the incumbent congressman; in 1968, he won the seat. He wanted to challenge Gov. Marvin Mandel in 1974, but lost the Republican primary; he beat the Prince George's Democrats in 1978 when he ousted County Executive Winfield Kelly. His proudest achievement of the last four years was to increase the number of blacks in the Prince George's police department from 68 to 138 and vastly improve relations between the police and black residents.
Hogan is a loner, a man who does not follow the usual political patterns. He is a Republican who lives in a black neighborhood, an FBI agent who thought of himself as a writer, a junior member of the House District of Columbia Committee who was a favorite of segregationist Chairman John McMillan (D-S.C.) and who has worked hard to increase the number of black police in Prince George's.
When he was most in the spotlight he was a loner as well: the only one of the 38 members of the House Judiciary Committee who did not caucus regularly with others during its 1974 impeachment hearings. Hogan insisted on a standard of proof most favorable to Richard Nixon, and tried to remove the Republican counsel because he thought he was working against the president. Then he surprised those who think that all politicians take positions on procedural issues merely to reach the substantive result they want by voting for impeachment. Richard Nixon, in his memoirs, says, "Hogan dealt us a very bad blow."
He made the decision, characteristically, alone: driving home after a campaign appearance in Frederick one night. When he got home, his wife was pleased when he told her that he would vote for impeachment, but, from the way he tells the story, you gather that she, like Nixon, was surprised.
"If there was any question," says Paul Sarbanes, when he is asked why he didn't move to Washington early in his career, "it was whether I would live in Baltimore or in Salisbury."
Salisbury is not the kind of town where you would expect to find a Princeton and Harvard Law graduate, a Rhodes scholar, make his career, but it is where Paul Sarbanes grew up; and if he did not settle there, his brother did, and became principal at the high school he and Paul attended. It is a town of 16,000, on the Wicomico River, the largest city on the Delmarva Peninsula; and if the Sarbanes family's roots there are strong, they are also recent.
Sarbanes' father left Greece at age 15, without knowing any English; he landed in New York, but with his cousins -- for reasons one would love to know but which are apparently lost now -- moved to Salisbury. There was no Greek community there: as a child, the nearest Greek churches the Sarbaneses could attend were in Wilmington and Philadelphia, and even today there are Greek Orthodox services there only once a month.
Like so many Greek immigrants, Paul Sarbanes' father opened a restaurant, first one called the Candy Kitchen, later the Mayflower Grill on Main Street. The family lived over the restaurant for eight or nine years, worked in it at all hours (Paul's mother finally insisted on closing Sundays). The summer after his father died, Paul Sarbanes returned from law school and ran the restaurant himself.
Sarbanes' father lacked formal schooling, but was a voracious learner; he taught his sons Plato and Aristotle, and he was interested enough in what they did to learn all about basketball when Paul made the team. (In conversation, Sen. Sarbanes is proud that he attended seven of his son's nine football games last season.) Sarbanes was one of those well-rounded star high school students, but he did not think of the Ivy League until a Princeton alumnus came to Salisbury recruiting students. The principal suggested Paul apply, and Princeton gave him a scholarship, a loan and a part-time job; he compiled a strong academic record, made the basketball team (though, unlike his Senate colleague, Bill Bradley, he spent most games on the bench) and won a Rhodes.
His four years at Princeton "opened up a lot of horizons." He went on to Oxford, Harvard Law School, a law clerkship with federal appeals Judge Morris Soper (then, at 86, still one of the most respected judges around), a job with economist Walter Heller when he was chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisers.
A partnership in a big Washington law firm and a house in Cleveland Park would complete a familiar picture, but Sarbanes decided to stay in Baltimore, where he had been living all along. In 1963, he left Heller's staff and the excitement of New Frontier Washington to serve as chief staffer to the Baltimore City Charter Commission. He talks not about what he left behind but about the charter he helped produce: "It was a good piece of work. The council approved it, and so did the voters, all in a year's time."
In Baltimore, Sarbanes got jobs working for top-flight people: William Marbury of Piper & Marbury, a longtime member of the Harvard Corporation, and Frank Murnaghan, who, thanks to Sarbanes, is now a federal judge. "I'm not sure at what point I got interested in running for office," he says. He was interested in issues in high school, took the famous PPE course at Oxford, and during the winter of his clerkship with Judge Soper by special arrangement worked with the tiny Maryland legislative research service in Annapolis. This is not the kind of background that would seem particularly useful for someone who wanted to get involved in the gritty street politics of Baltimore, but in Paul Sarbanes' case it worked.
Sarbanes' first campaign was for House of Delegates in 1966, in one of the six districts into which Baltimore then was divided. He ran a door-to-door campaign -- not the usual tactic at the time, when politicians generally sought the endorsement of local politicos. "I still run into people who remember that campaign, and say to me, 'I've been watching you ever since.' I like the stability and solidity of that observation."
Sarbanes insists that he is not an anti-organization politician. Yet he ran for each of his offices -- the legislature in 1966, the U.S. House in 1970 and the Senate in 1976 -- without waiting to be tapped by anyone. He beat one incumbent House member and committee chairman in the 1970 primary, and he was prepared to take on another in 1972 when the man retired. But once in office he has won regular Democratic support quickly, and he thinks "we're losing something by moving to free-wheeling political operatives and away from party." He has shown the tactics of a rebel and the temperament of a regular.
At each step, like the teen-ager who made his way from Greece to the Eastern Shore of Maryland, Sarbanes has moved where he wanted in his own way. He still lives in Baltimore, in the pleasant middle-class neighborhood near Johns Hopkins and Memorial Stadium; yet he seems uninterested in the kind of constant media appearances that other politicians seek to convince their constituents they are really in touch with their problems. He has had a series of powerful and brilliant mentors, and has made a career in a field where none of them could help him much. At each step, he has worked hard enough and proven bright enough to have succeeded. More than most politicians, he stubbornly insists on doing things his own way, and so far at least it has paid off.