No ethnic group ever did politics better than the Irish, so it seems fitting to take a look at what St. Patrick's Day festivities hold for those who run this great state.
House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr., he of the Fighting Irish, appears to be the big political headliner this year.
Mr. Taylor, a University of Notre Dame alumnus and Allegany County Democrat, makes no secret of his gubernatorial aspirations. He appears to be laying the groundwork for a 1998 bid for the second floor of the State House -- in this case by touching base early with the South Baltimore muldoons.
He kicks off the season tonight at the Stonewall Democratic TC Club as featured guest at its annual corned beef, cabbage and beer bash.
Mr. Taylor "will provide club members with his unique view of the accomplishments of the 1995 session," says Del. Brian K. McHale, the Locust Point Democrat who is Stonewall's president.
It promises to be a short address.
Mr. Speaker also will be appearing Sunday in the annual St. Patrick's Day parade through downtown Baltimore, once a must-do for pols in a city where the Irish adroitly flexed their political muscle.
The 124-group parade, which offers great exposure for candidates, is expected to be seen by a crowd of 125,000 as floats, pipers and marching bands file through the center of the city, down Charles Street to Pratt Street and along the Inner Harbor.
"We're not going to have a third of the politicians we had last year," said parade chairman James A. Jones. "We had people coming out of the woodwork last year," he noted, because of the statewide election.
Nevertheless, you can bank on the pols attending.
Among them: Maryland Comptroller and honorary Irishman Louis L. Goldstein; Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and his challenger in this year's mayoral race, City Council President Mary Pat Clarke; and Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. (Gov. Parris N. Glendening was invited but passed for an earlier commitment.)
This just in from Texas
Arch-conservative Alan L. Keyes, one of WCBM's talk show hosts, is not viewed by the mainstream GOP as a serious presidential contender. But support for Mr. Keyes, an unannounced candidate for the Republican nomination, is beginning to show up in the oddest places.
Take, for instance, the anti-government, pro-gun citizen militias springing up around the country.
Among Mr. Keyes' biggest fans is Bryan Villavaso of the Harris County-Alpha Unit of the Texas Constitutional Militia in Houston. He is touting Mr. Keyes as "the next president of the United States."
"I just wish I could get his talk show down here in Houston," said Mr. Villavaso, who sports a "Keyes for President" bumper sticker on his van. "We love Alan down here."
In fact, Mr. Keyes spoke to 500 people at a post-election thank you party for a state judge in Houston last Saturday night. Then, on Sunday morning, he delivered the good word to 1,000 of the faithful at Deerbrook Church, a Christian fundamentalist congregation in Humble, Texas, just northeast of Houston.
"His political foundation is the Declaration of Independence," explained Mr. Villavaso. "We're sick and tired of the governing authorities in this country that have forgotten what this country was founded on.
"This country was founded on God and freedom."
Mr. Keyes, who lives in Montgomery County, ran as the GOP candidate for Senate in 1988 and 1992, losing to Sens. Paul S. Sarbanes and Barbara A. Mikulski, respectively. He came under fire in the latter election for paying himself a salary of $8,500 a month from his campaign account. Mr. Keyes defended the payment as reasonable, since he had given up a lucrative job to seek elected office.
"I think his grass-roots support is going to surprise a lot of people," said Mr. Villavaso, a native of Baton Rouge, La. "There's a different surge in the political arena."
Burying the hatchet
Governor Glendening showed up last week at a testimonial for American Joe Miedusiewski, who gave him a fit last year with a ham-fisted radio campaign during the Democratic primary for governor.
Mr. Glendening gave a short speech after the $100-a-head dinner, a fund-raiser to retire Mr. Miedusiewski's campaign debt.