A Bentley-Cade ticket? It's not a done deal, not even close, but it could happen.
As legislators convene in Annapolis today for the annual General Assembly session, the guessing game surrounding state Sen. John A. Cade and his 1994 election plans is heating up.
The latest wrinkle has the Severna Park Republican receiving feelers about the No. 2 spot on the ticket from Rep. Helen Delich Bentley, one of three GOP gubernatorial hopefuls.
Mr. Cade, a gruff bulldog of a man, is an acquired taste, like martinis, scrapple and Ross Perot. He can be churlish, charming or profane, much like Mrs. Bentley.
He has spent nearly two decades in the legislature, presumably an attractive feature to someone such as Mrs. Bentley, who has no State House experience, having spent her entire political career in Washington.
Mr. Cade says he is still reviewing his political options. And he won't confirm talking to Mrs. Bentley about the No. 2 slot although a Bentley campaign aide, Gordon Hensley, did so yesterday.
Until now, Mr. Cade has described his options as running for state comptroller or the U.S. Senate, seeking re-election to his state Senate seat or retiring from politics.
He said yesterday that he has ruled out challenging U.S. Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes but continues to feel he might have a chance against Louis L. Goldstein, the nine-term incumbent comptroller.
For the first time, however, he said under questioning that the lieutenant governor's post has entered into his calculations, though he refused to say which gubernatorial candidate had injected it.
"I wouldn't call it an option, but that's a possibility, maybe," he said.
Mr. Hensley, a consultant to the Bentley campaign, confirmed that the Baltimore County congresswoman has discussed the lieutenant governor's post with Mr. Cade, but he was quick to add that she has had similar discussions with other possible running mates.
Mr. Cade, 64, was elected to the Senate in 1975. He has been Senate minority leader since 1983, serving as floor leader for the tiny GOP senatorial contingent, now nine of the 47 senators.
He is an acknowledged expert on budgetary matters and, despite a sharp tongue and occasional lapses into bluster, is widely respected by Democrats and Republicans.
A Bentley-Cade ticket would seem to lack geographic balance in that both hail from the Baltimore metropolitan area.
Montgomery County, the state's most populous subdivision, has long decried its lack of clout in Annapolis and has the votes to make statewide candidates take notice.
But a veteran Montgomery County GOP legislator, Sen. Howard A. Denis, reacted enthusiastically to the prospect that Mr. Cade might run for lieutenant governor with Mrs. Bentley.
"I think Jack Cade is a tower of strength, a powerful intellect, with contacts all over the state, including Montgomery County," Mr. Denis said. "He'd be a phenomenal asset for any ticket. Seldom has anyone achieved the stature in the legislature that he has, particularly someone from the minority party."
But what about his being from Anne Arundel County, in the Baltimore metropolitan area? "Is Anne Arundel in the Baltimore area?" Mr. Denis said, smiling.
That's the deal. That's the way it will be presented if a Bentley-Cade ticket materializes. Anne Arundel is not really Baltimore. It's really a hybrid -- a little of Baltimore, a little of Washington. Or so it will be argued.
Even Mr. Cade, essentially tight-lipped about his future, couldn't resist weighing in on that point.
"If you took a poll of my district in Severna Park, you'd probably find as many Washington Post boxes as Baltimore Sun boxes," he said.
Showing the flag
William E. Brock, the former Reagan administration labor secretary, visited the State House yesterday to meet and greet Republican legislators at their presession caucus, presumably to drum up support for his likely bid for the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate.
Legislators can count on one friendly face when they return to Annapolis today. James Chambers is still running the shoeshine stand he has manned in the State House basement for the past 36 years. During that time, only two governors have failed to stop by for a shine, Spiro T. Agnew and William Donald Schaefer. Mr. Chambers is 77 and, in his words, "going strong."