Suddenly the Maryland political scene looks like the children's matinee movie house seconds after the doors open minus only the bubble gum: the race for seats is on and everybody around is scrambling, jostling or shifting places up, down and across the aisles. And when the lights go back on later, the place won't look the same at all. Change -- of some dramatic kind -- is in the offing. With a remarkable number of high offices likely to be vacated in search of higher ones, Maryland's squad of top public servants will see more turnovers next year than even this year's Redskins will in a half-month of Sundays.
First the scores: Without so much as a single ballot cast for anything, half of Maryland's congressional delegation of 10 may be gone -- one out of two senators certainly and four out of eight members of the House conceivably. In Annapolis, the state government will be under new management. The stewardship of Baltimore could also be altered historically: The city could have its first black mayor. What about county government? Montgomery will have a new executive, as will Baltimore County and Howard and some others.
With Republican Sen. Charles McC. Mathias leaving the Senate, there are two members of the House poised to pack up and race for the other side of Capitol Hill: Reps. Michael Barnes and Barbara Mikulski. Two other longtime members -- Marjorie Holt and Parren Mitchell -- are retiring. Gov. Harry Hughes and Baltimore County Executive Donald Hutchinson are looking to the Senate too; somewhere there is at least one Republican who will go for a Senate nomination. Ready or almost ready to try to succeed Gov. Hughes are State Attorney General Stephen Sachs, Maryland House Speaker Benjamin Cardin, Baltimore Mayor William Donald Schaefer and Howard County Executive Hugh Nichols, a Democrat-turned-Republican for the occasion. With Montgomery County Executive Charles Gilchrist leaving, a lively contest is assured there.
What does it all mean? The computer says "more data necessary." The pundit says the political landscape is shifting. And the economist looks for an upswing in auto sales because nobody will be able to fit all those bumper stickers on one car. It can't be all dull.