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Mfume running on his own 'timetable'


AS DEMOCRATIC Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin continues to collect endorsements in his U.S. Senate race, primary opponent Kweisi Mfume is telling supporters he's on a different timetable.

Cardin is scheduled to receive endorsements today from Howard County Executive James N. Robey, state Sen. Edward J. Kasemeyer, Howard County Councilman Guy Guzzone and several other state and local Democrats. Earlier this month, Cardin received similar support from officials in another swing suburban county, Anne Arundel.

Still awaiting his first endorsements, Mfume distributed an e-mail message last week explaining his strategy.

"Throughout the course of the rest of the year, I will be announcing endorsements and the support of community leaders, labor leaders, women's groups, businessmen and businesswomen, academicians, elected officials and leaders in the larger faith community who care about issues and who want positive and constructive change," Mfume promised.

"As I have said at campaign stops throughout the state, our campaign is being done on our timetable and not that of the so-called 'experts.' I know that talking one-on-one to voters is so much more important than posturing."

O'Malley casts a wide net for funds and catches flak

Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley is planning a big-bucks fund-raiser for Monday at M&T; Bank Stadium as part of the run-up to his all-but-declared campaign for governor, and he is evidently trying even the most unlikely of places to enroll new donors.

One solicitation wound up in the e-mail inbox of Trent M. Kittleman, executive secretary of the Maryland Transportation Authority, widow of former Republican Sen. Robert H. Kittleman.

None too pleased with being asked to give money to a campaign that would seek to unseat her boss, she sent a reply, questioning the propriety of e-mailing political solicitations to state government e-mail addresses.

"You are knowingly urging a state employee to misuse state computer equipment, while on state time, to make a political contribution to a candidate for state office," she wrote. "Please remove my name from your list and refrain from sending me any further emails."

Senator still seeks action on air-pollution lawsuit

Angry that Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. kept Maryland out of a multistate lawsuit challenging new Environmental Protection Agency clean-air regulations, state Sen. Paula C. Hollinger, the chairwoman of the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee, received an opinion this month from the attorney general's office saying that the legislature could force the state to participate through a resolution.

However, the deadline for the first part of the lawsuit has passed, and a second deadline will have come and gone before the legislature reconvenes in January. Hollinger said she is considering pursuing a resolution anyway to give additional support to the states that are challenging the regulation, which would ease mercury-pollution control requirements for coal-fired power plants.

"There are really a lot of upset people out there," Hollinger said. "You've got a lot of people who suffer from respiratory disease who actually pay attention to those things."

Democrats display unity -- but not governorships

Maryland Democrats continue to try to prove their unity as they enter the 2006 election and try to reclaim the governorship.

The latest example came last week, during a fund-raiser at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the shadow of Capitol Hill that attracted most of Maryland's congressional delegation to honor House Speaker Michael E. Busch and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller. The event raised about $100,000 for the party.

Perhaps the most unexpected guest was Massachusetts Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who told a crowd of several dozen that after his travels across the county, he believes that Democrats are resurgent. But is Ted Kennedy really the best person to deliver the message?

After all, Maryland Democrats find themselves in a pickle in large part because of the ineffective candidacy of Kennedy's niece, former Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.

And Kennedy's home state, Massachusetts, offers a poor example of how a blue state can reaffirm its status after the GOP claims the governor's mansion. Starting with William Weld in 1991, the Bay State has been led by four successive Republican governors.

Kennedy brushed aside those questions in a brief interview. Local factors, he said, explained the success of GOP candidates in Massachusetts. Across the country, "people are ready to take back their government," he insisted.

Politicians try to expand definition of 'pro-business'

Tired of being called anti-business by Ehrlich and groups such as the Chamber of Commerce, a group of Democrats announced the formation of their own business caucus last week to promulgate what they call a "broader view" of what it means to be business-friendly.

"People who are against the living wage and minimum wage, they've gotten it in your head that that's for business," said Del. Herman L. Taylor II, a Montgomery County Democrat who owns an office supply company. "Just because we want to lift people out of poverty, that doesn't necessarily translate to 'We're anti-business.'"

Even before the Democrats made their announcement, Robert O.C. "Rocky" Worcester, head of Maryland Business for Responsive Government, was on the phone calling the caucus a naked attempt to counter the annual legislator rankings his organization produces, which tend to cast Democrats in a bad light. "The pro-business Democrats are almost nonexistent," Worcester said.

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