Senator puts appeal to the test


SEN. CHRISTOPHER Van Hollen Jr., a rising legislative star from Montgomery County, will see later this month whether his appeal extends statewide.

A major fund-raising event in Owings Mills will mark the first time Van Hollen has raised money outside Montgomery County.

The invitation includes four of the state's top Democratic elected officials: Gov. Parris N. Glendening, Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Comptroller William Donald Schaefer and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller.

It's not unusual for such officials to lend their names to a legislator's fund-raising efforts. More impressive are the event's "patrons," a list that includes heavy-hitters, most of them from the Baltimore region.

Among them are Baltimore Orioles owner Peter G. Angelos, bakery owner John Paterakis and Daniel Clements, head of the state trial lawyers political action committee.

The list also includes Karl K. Pence, head of the Maryland State Teachers Association, Michael Bronfein, a Baltimore pharmacy owner and Townsend fund-raiser, and several people active in issues of health care and gun control.

Although the gubernatorial election is two years away, Van Hollen, 41, is being mentioned as a possible running mate for Townsend.

Van Hollen is in his 10th year in the General Assembly, four in the House of Delegates and six in the Senate. He says anything is possible.

"I'm raising money for re-election, but I wouldn't rule anything out," he said. "It's very early."

The June 27 event will take place at the home of Van Hollen's cousin, Hannah Byron.

The affair has no fixed ticket price, but Van Hollen is asking for contributions of $100 to $500 and up. He said he has no firm financial goal for the event.

Van Hollen was widely viewed as one of the leading lights of this year's General Assembly session, playing an important role in the debate over the governor's gun-safety bill and the state's expenditure of its share of the national tobacco settlement.

Through a spokesman, Glendening said he was happy to attend the fund-raiser as a thank-you for Van Hollen's work during the session and as an acknowledgement of the "expanded leadership role he's playing statewide and in the Democratic Party."

Teachers union chief may advise Glendening

Speaking of Karl Pence: The teachers union chief, who has been one of the governor's staunchest supporters, might soon be joining the Glendening administration.

Sources say Pence is in line to become education adviser to the governor, a job that was created by the General Assembly this year at Glendening's request. Pence's term as head of the MSTA ends this month.

The governor's appointments secretary, Jennifer Crawford, is leaving that post to become a deputy chief of staff for Glendening. Crawford is expected to handle a few issues for Glendening, including matters related to Smart Growth. She will, no doubt, also continue to give the governor political advice.

No word yet on who will fill the appointments job.

Townsend left out of death penalty decision

Glendening made one of the toughest decisions of his tenure last week, opting to stop the execution of Eugene Colvin-el.

The governor concluded that Colvin-el was probably guilty of a 1980 murder, but he wasn't certain enough to allow the execution.

In making the decision, Glendening said he read through the lengthy 20-year record of the case, taking some of the documents with him on his recent economic development trip to Europe.

He also consulted with a small number of advisers, according to his spokesman.

One person who was not consulted was Townsend, the governor's point person on criminal justice issues.

Why not? "She had not reviewed the case file," said Glendening spokesman Michael Morrill. "This is a very personal decision the governor must make."

Townsend, like Glendening, supports the death penalty. Many observers conclude that there will be relatively little political fallout for either of them from the governor's decision.

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