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Momma's train moving at full speed

THEY COULDN'T throw Momma from the train, so Del. Hattie N. Harrison is throwing a party on it.

Harrison is holding a fund-raiser with the theme, "All Aboard ... Come Join Momma on the Train" - a play on the slogan she used during last year's state elections, "Don't Throw Momma from the Train."

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The slogan emerged from political infighting between Harrison and Sen. Nathaniel J. McFadden, chairman of the Baltimore Senate delegation and the leader of the Eastside Democratic Organization, which Harrison helped found.

The east-side political group ran another candidate in Harrison's place, forcing her to compete against the organization of which she had long been a part. In the end, she won.

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Now it appears that Harrison, 75, has even more steam than the east-side political organization thought.

Harrison's fund-raiser, planned for Aug. 19, is sending a strong signal that she plans to be around for a while longer.

Harrison is the longest-serving African-American woman in the history of the Maryland General Assembly with 30 years. She is two years shy of the record set by former Sen. Clarence W. Blount as the longest-serving African-American.

Moreover, she is the first African-American woman to lead a legislative committee. She is the chairwoman of the Rules and Executive Nominations Committee in the House of Delegates.

Where Momma stops is anybody's guess.

Hope is fading for ban on slots money in politics

Del. Luiz R.S. Simmons says he had been holding out hope since the Assembly session ended that Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. might back his legislative proposal to bar gambling interests from contributing to political campaigns in Maryland.

Not anymore.

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The Montgomery County Democrat figures that support from the governor's office is no longer in the cards - if it ever really was - given recent public comments by Ehrlich's communications director, Paul Schurick.

Schurick said he sees no reason to single out gambling interests for a ban on campaign contributions. That's in contrast to comments Schurick made during the legislative session that the Ehrlich administration was "very interested" in exploring the idea.

The proposed ban on gambling contributions never made it out of legislative committee. Simmons said he plans to reintroduce it next year and would have welcomed Ehrlich's support.

Simmons said he suspects the administration intends to "pull out all the stops" for slots again next year, and apparently has concluded that liberal dollops of campaign cash from gambling interests can only help the cause.

"I do believe they feel as many inducements as can be brought to bear on the General Assembly to promote the governor's [slots] program is something that they want to encourage and, more importantly, something they do not want to discourage," Simmons said.

He noted that several states prohibit gambling interests from donating to political campaigns, and that the National Gambling Impact Study Commission recommended such bans in its 1999 report on the spread of gambling in the United States.

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"I actually thought the governor was going to show real leadership on this issue," Simmons said.

Wynn makes his choice for Bush challenger in '04

Although still very early in the presidential campaign, Rep. Albert R. Wynn has made his choice from among a long list of Democratic contenders who hope to challenge President Bush in 2004.

The Prince George's County Democrat has endorsed trial lawyer and North Carolina senator John Edwards, saying that Edwards is committed to the "core principles of the Democratic Party ... and is the candidate that reaches the broadest cross-section of voters."

In a statement announcing the endorsement, Wynn also appeared to take a shot at former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, whose sharp attacks on Bush have helped propel the underdog Dean into the upper tier of primary candidates.

"It is not enough just to be anti-Bush," said Wynn. "The Democratic nominee for president must also have the ability and the ideas necessary to lead the nation."

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Wynn spokeswoman Amaya Smith said Wynn prefers Edwards because the two share similar views on many political issues, including "expanding opportunities for minority businesses."

Smith noted that three other members of the Congressional Black Caucus also have endorsed Edwards' candidacy.

"It's never too early to offer support because a lot of the major action is happening now," she said.


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