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Gore-Townsend ticket is unlikely; Speculation: The lieutenant governor has been mentioned as a possible vice presidential candidate. But the consensus is that she's not ready.


THE GREAT mentioner has discovered Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.

In recent weeks, the name of Maryland's lieutenant governor has been bandied about nationally as a possible running mate for Vice President Al Gore in next year's presidential election.

Relying on unnamed sources in the Clinton administration, syndicated columnist Robert Novak said Townsend "might" receive "serious consideration" for the No. 2 spot with Gore, should he win the Democratic nomination.

Another conservative columnist, Arianna Huffington, might as well be on the lieutenant governor's payroll, considering the glowing column she wrote about Townsend.

"Al Gore does not deserve her," Huffington said. "And if he chooses her to be his running mate, he'll definitely be marrying up."

Last time we checked with the Gore camp, aides privately suggested that the notion of a Gore-Townsend ticket was far-fetched.

Townsend, who is running full-tilt for governor in 2002, has only five years in elective office, and her management experience consists of overseeing smallish bureaucracies.

"Not ready" was the bottom line.

Republican, Democrat, what's the difference?

Some Republicans received a jolt with their Wheaties the other morning.

A newspaper article about the possible indictment of a Democratic legislator from Baltimore identified his lawyer as Richard D. Bennett.

Bennett, the former U.S. attorney for Maryland, is also chairman of the state Republican Party -- the same Republican Party that has criticized Maryland Democrats for a series of ethical lapses in the past few years.

At Saturday's state GOP convention, some activists grumbled about Bennett's representation of Del. Tony E. Fulton in the federal criminal case.

"Leaders of the party have been trying to point out for years that the one-party system corrupts," said one. "When you have an example of how the one-party system corrupts, the chairman of the Republican Party is representing the defendant. It's just nuts."

Bennett, who has worked aggressively to raise money and re-energize the Maryland GOP after its lackluster performance in the 1998 elections, said he has not heard any such criticism. He shrugged off the concerns.

"I represent people like that all the time," said Bennett. "The nature of these proceedings don't relate to the Glendening administration or the Maryland Democratic Party. My law firm represents both Democrats and Republicans."

Hoyer whipping up support for Democratic candidates

Congress may be out of session, but Rep. Steny H. Hoyer is busy.

The Southern Maryland Democrat is running full speed for the third-ranking position in the House -- majority whip -- a bid complicated by the fact that Democrats are not in the majority.

Hoyer will spend much of the rest of the year recruiting candidates to challenge Republicans and raising money for vulnerable Democratic incumbents. Sunday night, he was at a New York fund-raiser for Rep. Michael P. Forbes of Long Island, who switched his party affiliation to the Democrats this year.

Hoyer expects to raise and spend at least $300,000 on Democratic candidates, assistance he hopes will translate into votes when House Democrats cast ballots for their leaders next fall, perhaps as the chamber's majority party.

Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, a Baltimore-area Democrat, is backing Hoyer's bid and told colleagues in a letter last week that the whip post appears to be in Hoyer's grasp.

Hoyer, though, faces at least two challengers -- Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, a member of Baltimore's D'Alesandro political family, and Rep. John Lewis of Georgia. In the 435-member House, Republicans hold a nine-seat majority.

The only good legislation is no legislation at all?

Finally, a bit of legislative philosophy from Sen. Walter M. Baker, the crusty, conservative chairman of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.

Baker, a Cecil County Democrat, agreed to speak last week at an Annapolis fund-raiser for Sen. Alex X. Mooney, a Frederick County Republican.

In remarks, Baker summarized his world view this way:

"A good bill is a dead bill."

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