The Maryland GOP gathered in Ocean City last weekend for a sleepy little pow-wow, the party's semiannual convention.
The latest stumble by Democratic Gov. Parris N. Glendening offered fodder for gleeful grumbling, and there was the usual bitter whining about Ellen R. Sauerbrey's loss to Mr. Glendening by just 5,993 votes in November.
Oddly, however, the talk of presidential politics and Maryland's early primary in March never got above a low hum.
That was surprising for the faithful of a party that is enjoying a rebirth in Maryland and is just nine months from a contested primary.
The strongest presence was from the state campaign organization of Texas Sen. Phil Gramm, led by Mrs. Sauerbrey, who is capitalizing on her support and Mr. Gramm's early endorsements from elected Republicans here.
Mrs. Sauerbrey -- who is addressed as "governor" by the true believers -- saw to it that the Gramm name was prominent.
Sauerbrey loyalists got an early weekend start by posting a billboard-sized "Gramm/President" sign that couldn't be missed by beach-bound traffic on U.S. 50. Mrs. Sauerbrey introduced Wendy Lee Gramm, the senator's wife, at a campaign barbecue Friday night, held at the beach house of the parents of Del. Donald E. Murphy of Baltimore County.
Both women stressed the importance of grass-roots support for Mr. Gramm, who trails Kansas Sen. Bob Dole in early polls by at least 20 points.
Mrs. Gramm, an economist who headed the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission in the Reagan and Bush administrations, conceded that her husband is "not as well-known" in Maryland as Mr. Dole.
That will turn around, she said, based much on Mrs. Sauerbrey's efforts.
Supporters of Mr. Dole, who tapped Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest of Maryland's 1st District as state campaign chairman last week, sponsored a hospitality suite and distributed stickers and copies of two speeches -- one announcing his candidacy, the other decrying "depravity" in the entertainment industry.
(The only other candidate to sponsor a hospitality suite was John S. Morgan, the Howard County delegate who is launching a congressional bid against Democratic Rep. Steny H. Hoyer.)
The tight-fisted presidential campaign of dark horse Lamar Alexander, the former Tennessee governor, limited itself to a table of campaign literature and bumper stickers.
Copsey leaves state GOP
Lance D. Copsey resigned Saturday as executive director of the Maryland Republican Party to become Northeast political director for Lamar Alexander's campaign.
Mr. Copsey, 25, said he would be coordinating the campaign in a handful of states, including Maryland, with particular emphasis on New Hampshire.
He will be commuting on weekends between the Alexander campaign headquarters in Nashville, Tenn., and his home in Annapolis.
A native of North Beach in Calvert County, Mr. Copsey started with the state party as a staff assistant in 1991. He has been executive director for the past two years.
Terhes in Moscow
Mr. Copsey's now ex-boss, state party Chairwoman Joyce Lyons Terhes, also is on the move.
Ms. Terhes is in Moscow for 10 days as an adviser at an International Republican Institute campaign seminar for Russian party leaders, who are getting ready for elections this year.
She could end up bumping into her nemesis in last year's general election, who also is working as an elections adviser in the U.S. pro-democracy effort in Russia. Kathleen M. "Kate" Head, former executive director of the Maryland Democratic Party, is in Moscow for the year at IRI's Democratic counterpart.
A meeting of the two could give new meaning to the term "international incident."
Speaker to visit
House Speaker Newt Gingrich will be spreading the good word and goodwill in Maryland's 6th District next week.
The architect of "Contract with America" will be the featured attraction at a $75-a-head fund-raiser for Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett scheduled for June 15 in Hagerstown.