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Phelps wins over General Assembly, hopes Preakness stays in Maryland

An Annapolis Dispatch from the Baltimore Sun's Gadi Dechter and Julie Bykowicz:

Michael Phelps transformed lawmakers in the House of Delegates into a salivating swarm of paparazzi this morning when the Olympic swimmer and Baltimore bad boy visited the Maryland General Assembly.

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Politicians took pictures on their cell phones, whistled and gaped as House Speaker Michael E. Busch introduced the "very special guest" to the legislators, whom he described as "not many great swimmers … but they all know how to tread water very well."

Addressing the House, a somewhat nervous-seeming Phelps smiled and said it "feels good to be back home" in Baltimore, causing the Baltimore delegation to leap to its feet.

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After posing for photos with delegates in the House lounge (at least that's what we were told, since press was forbidden from entering that inner sanctum while Phelps was there), the grey-suited swimmer walked across the lobby for more squeals – this time from senators.

On the way between the chambers, Phelps opined on the issue of the day: fear that the Preakness Stakes could be sold out of state under a bankruptcy auction.

Phelps, who has been known to enjoy a party, told The Baltimore Sun that he has never been to the second jewel of the Triple Crown at Pimlico and hopes to attend this year.

"To have it leave Baltimore, I can't really see that happening," he said, adding that such a turn of events "would be devastating."

While Phelps was being lauded on the Senate floor by Sen. Jim Brochin for his generosity to his fans, a group of admirers -- mostly women, many gussied up -- stood in the lobby waiting for a sliver of that generosity.

They were upset to learn from security moments later, that Phelps had exited the State House through a side door. One state worker told Sun photographer Monica Lopossay: "Great, now I have to go home and tell my son .. that Michael Phelps can't be his hero anymore.


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