Don't you think you should be running along?

State Sen. Catherine Pugh founded the Baltimore Running Festival a decade ago and has remained involved with the event ever since. So it should have been no surprise that she'd show up last week at a news conference to promote the marathon at Under Armour's corporate headquarters.

But it sounds as if her appearance did not go over well with the mayor's office.

A source who was there tells me that Renee Samuels, a special assistant to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, asked Pugh to leave before the event got under way. Pugh not only ignored the request, I'm told, but had a chair brought forward so she could sit with race organizers and other dignitaries at the front of the room.

Pugh, said to be on Rawlings-Blake's bad side because she is considering a run for mayor, did not dispute the story when I called. But she wasn't commenting, either.

"I have a lot of things I'm focused on," she said. "Negativity is not one of them."

I also phoned Samuels and said I'd heard she'd asked Pugh to leave.

"Did you?" she asked. She referred me to the mayor's communications office.

I e-mailed Rawlings-Blake spokesman Ryan O'Doherty, telling him what I'd heard.

"Sound realistic to you?" he wrote back.

Well, yeah.

"Sen. Pugh and many other officials attended the press event from beginning to end," he said in a follow-up e-mail. "Of course, no one ever asked anyone to leave the event."

I also called Lee Corrigan, whose Corrigan Sports Enterprises puts on the race, to ask about the most taxing part of the marathon. Not running 26.2 miles, but managing two potential mayoral rivals in the same room.

He laughed.

"I'm going to have to do the diplomatic thing and say, 'No comment,' on that point because I don't want to get myself in a bad spot with either one," he said. "I love both of them. They're both very supportive of the event."

But is it true that the mayor's office tried to oust Pugh from the news conference?

"The only thing I'll say is Catherine Pugh did a terrific job helping us get this off the ground," Corrigan said, "and Stephanie has done a wonderful job continuing to support the event."

Only half of 'Hamlet'

City Councilwoman Helen Holton participated in a panel discussion on ethics this week despite her recent plea to a campaign finance violation. If that's not classy enough for you, consider that she managed to weave in a little bit of the Bard.

The Sun's Julie Scharper reports that when a Loyola University student asked whether Holton and the other panelists had advice for job-seekers, Holton replied, "I believe it was Shakespeare who said, 'To thine own self be true.'"

Too bad Holton didn't follow advice that comes just a few lines ahead of the quote she pulled from "Hamlet": "Neither a borrower nor a lender be."

Back into the fray

Sterling Clifford held down two seemingly impossible jobs at once in Baltimore, as spokesman for both the city Police Department and about-to-be-indicted Mayor Sheila Dixon.

And then in late 2008, he left to "to move to San Francisco, grow a beard and live with his wife, an officer in the Coast Guard who was transferred there in June," as The Sun's Annie Linskey reported at the time.

But it looks as if Clifford has managed to find challenging work out there, too, as spokesman for Jerry Brown, the once and maybe future governor of California. The job has dragged Clifford into controversies of all sorts. Like when a Brown campaign aide was caught on tape calling Brown's opponent, Meg Whitman, a "whore." Or the flap about mammograms that found Clifford having to declare: "Jerry Brown opposes cancer in all cases."

So much for taking it easy. I e-mailed Clifford and asked: "What happened to moving to San Francisco, growing a beard and living with your wife?"

He wrote back: "I did all of those things. I actually live in Oakland now, we have a 18-month old boy. Turns out the beard isn't a good look for me, so I shaved and got back to work."

Connect the dots …

Bob Ehrlich casts himself as the plainspoken antidote to Martin O'Malley's overwrought oratory. But consider what he had to say on the topic of gay marriage in last week's debate: "Bundles of rights should attach to nontraditional relationships." That clears that up. … Speaking of the debate, what's with songwriter O'Malley's answer to the softball question about his favorite song: "I'll pass"? Ehrlich, meanwhile, revealed he's a fan of the Stylistics, the Philadelphia soul group with the perfect anthem for a pol in tough times: "I Can't Give You Anything (But My Love)." … A college kid in an O'Malley campaign ad says his mom's a teacher. Later in the ad, he says, "I'm the first of my family to go to college." Gotcha? O'Malley spokesman Rick Abbruzzese says it's legit: "His mom is a teaching assistant. She has an associate's degree. He is the first to go to a four-year institution."

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