Michael E. Busch: House speaker flexes muscle, outmaneuvers governor, stops slots. Cas Taylor's shoes fit just fine.
Maryland's gambling dollars continue to pay for their schools and roads, at least for one more year.
Brian E. Frosh: Nice-guy liberal senator makes Republicans miss ex-chairman Walter Baker. Blocks Ehrlich's environmental secretary, kills crime package.
James C. DiPaula Jr.: The man known as Chip makes fluid transition from campaign manager to budget chieftain, winning friends along the way.
Donald E. Murphy: The man behind medical marijuana proves more effective out of office than he was as a delegate.
Michael S. Steele: Still joined at hip with Ehrlich, lieutenant guv makes friends on both sides of the aisle. Plus, has enough sense to skip Polar Bear Plunge.
Alfred W. Redmer Jr.: House minority leader emerges as skillful defender of administration without getting caught up in its missteps.
Bill Rickman Jr.: Delaware Park owner keeps his track free of Maryland competition for at least another year.
Conservative Republicans: Inauguration euphoria doesn't fade. More and more, governor looks like one of their own.
"Wynn-Wynn": Rep. Albert R. Wynn helps clear the field for casino mogul Steve Wynn in future slots battles.
Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.: Shortest honeymoon in Maryland history? Missteps, ill-timed remarks, sloppy staff work doom slots and other initiatives.
Lynn Y. Buhl: Environmental secretary nominee learns the hard way that Maryland is greener than Michigan.
Joe De Francis: Out $200,000-plus in campaign gifts and still can't get slots at his tracks. A crack shot when aiming at own foot, thought booze till 4 a.m. was a winner.
Ken Masters: Ehrlich's chief legislative officer can't pass any legislation. Some advisers want him out, but the boss is loyal.
Martin O'Malley: Mayor's hands-off approach on slots has lawmakers asking where's the leadership.
Thornton education formula: House balks at slots, Ehrlich balks at taxes. School kids caught in the middle.
Bill Rickman Jr.: Track executive loses bid for slots in Allegany County, frozen out at Ocean Downs.
CareFirst board: Scathing ruling by insurance commissioner strips what little credibility remained.
Transportation: Trust fund takes a big hit to balance budget. Potential 2006 issue has Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan salivating.
"Seat at the table": In January everybody had one at Ehrlich's place; by April, chairs were piling up on scrap heap.