Young steps toward politics; Work on fund-raiser for Delegate Oaks hints at possibility; 'I'm just biding my time'; Acquittal brought calls of support, ousted senator says


Recently cleared of bribery and extortion charges, former state Sen. Larry Young is wasting no time getting back in politics -- helping raise campaign funds for a Baltimore legislator and dropping hints that he intends to run for office again.

Stepping once more into the political world that was his for a quarter-century, Young is serving as chairman of a fund-raising event Tuesday for Del. Nathaniel T. Oaks, a West Baltimore Democrat.

Always adept at raising money, Young has sent out letters, distributed tickets and made phone calls on Oaks' behalf.

"Nat Oaks is my best friend. He called and asked if I might help him," Young said yesterday during an interview in his office at WOLB radio, where he is the morning talk-show host. "I'm more than happy to help him."

Next Friday, Young will hold a $30-per-person benefit -- a midnight revue in the style of Baltimore's old Royal Theater -- to help pay for what he says is more than $100,000 in legal bills.

Young says he plans to hold more of such events, including one in coming weeks featuring political activist Dick Gregory.

Once one of the most powerful legislators in Annapolis on health-care matters, Young was expelled from the Senate in January 1998 for a series of ethics violations -- the first expulsion of a Maryland lawmaker in 200 years.

But thanks to his five-day-a-week radio program, his profile in the community has stayed high in the 1 1/2 years since then.

He says he received nearly 500 calls of support over three days after his acquittal on the corruption charges Sept. 24. Since then, he says he raised more than $42,000 from listeners for flooded-out victims of Hurricane Floyd in North Carolina. He was to broadcast from that state this morning.

Tuesday night, a crowd of an estimated 160 people turned out at a community forum organized by Young to discuss last week's fatal shooting by a police officer of a 21-year-old man in East Baltimore.

Young, 49, says he is not ready to discuss his political future.

"Larry Young's political future is of no concern to me in 1999. Note that I'm choosing my words carefully," Young said.

Asked whether he believes he can again win elective office, Young sounds eager, pointing to his two dozen years in the Maryland House of Delegates and Senate. "I'm sitting on 24 years of experience," Young said. "We have a unique opportunity with that kind of experience. But, for now, I'm just biding my time."

He says he is humbled by his legal ordeal, but he is clearly not at peace with the state's political establishment.

Asked if he is bitter at Senate colleagues who voted to expel him, Young paused and then declined to answer. Later, he referred to Gov. Parris N. Glendening, his one-time political ally, as "Mr. Amnesia Glendening" -- an allusion to the governor's distancing himself as Young's legal troubles mounted.

"That's what some folks call him," Young said. "I'm reserving judgment."

But Young's relationship with some of his former colleagues appears to be strong. The Legislative Black Caucus applauded Young at its recent annual conference. And Oaks said he is proud to have Young's help for his fund-raiser.

"I consider it an honor," said Oaks, who was often in the courtroom during Young's nine-day trial in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court.

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