ANNAPOLIS -- The political confrontation hardened yesterday between the administration and the Senate over four fairly routine Schaefer appointments as the full Senate followed a committee recommendation to reject the nominees.
But Gov. William Donald Schaefer's patronage secretary said the appointments actually had been withdrawn before they got to the Executive Nominations Committee so that both the committee and ther Senate were acting on something not even before them.
"I think they certainly went out of their way to make this statement, beyond what the rules are," said Robert A. Pascal, the administration's appointments secretary.
"Technically, these names weren't even in front of them, so that action has no legal standing."
That may be, but legislators had to make a public stand, said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., D-Prince George's.
"The Senate really had no other alternative but to say publicly that these nominations were rejected by the committee and they were rejected by the Senate," he said.
"If [the governor] appoints them during the interim, then the first order of business for the Senate will be to reject them again."
On Monday, in an extraordinary departure from its historic rubber-stamp mode on executive appointments, the Senate committee rejected the appointments of Courtney McKeldin and Daniel J. Earnshaw to fill the two Republican seats on the five-member state Administrative Board of Elections.
The panel also rejected Alan B. Plevy, husband of Schaefer aide Daryl C. Plevy, for one of two seats on Montgomery County's election board, and Dana C. Beard, who had been recommended as an alternate to Howard County's board.
It was the first time the Senate's 19-member committee had rejected a Schaefer nominee. The full Senate unanimously rejected three of the nominees and rejected Mr. Plevy by a vote of 34-12.
Legislators rejected the nominations of Mrs. McKeldin, who headed Republicans For Schaefer before last year's elections, and Mr. Earnshaw at the urging of GOP senators who preferred " the board's incumbents.
Mr. Plevy's rejection came at the request of Sen. Laurence Levitan, D-Montgomery, whose own nomination to the University Maryland Medical System's governing board has been delayed by the administration. Mr. Pascal, a Republican, was furious.
"At some point, we're going to have to take the high road here and quit being petty and start governing," he said. "When you're in a urinating game, everybody gets wet. Nobody looks good."
For Mr. Miller, the only person who doesn't look good in all this is Mr. Schaefer.
"Unfortunately, instability and inconsistency are the order of the day on the second floor," he said. "No one can predict what the action will be."
Given all that has happened with the appointees, Mr. Pascal said he can't predict how the administration will handle future appointments. One thing is certain, he said, a change is going to come.
Mr. Pascal said he plans to sit down with the governor and legislative leaders and discuss the appointment process after the current squabble has run its course.
"We'll have to weigh how we're going to examine the situation as [legislators] call in supporting their particular people," he said. "We're going to have to develop a policy in that regard."