We could write a sonnet about their Easter bonnets


Kendel Ehrlich, Democrat-turned-Republican, wore a black, broad-brimmed number. Frances Glendening, Republican-turned-Democrat, went hatless. And Nancy Grasmick, the Democratic pal of Maryland's GOP governor, showed off her legendary ability to straddle the fence: She plopped a jockey's helmet on her head just as she stepped up to the podium at Pimlico, then whipped it off before it could smush her poofy blond 'do.

"I do have a hat," she told the crowd. "It's a jockey hat and it's very heavy and it's now coming off."

The party politics might have been muddled at a Jockey Club luncheon the other day, but the headgear politics was as plain as, well, the hats on (or off) their heads. Pro-hatters dominated, which may or may not have made sense at an event called Hats Off to Women.

Among the hatless minority: Nancy Ehrlich, the Gov's mom, who says she's too short to wear one.

"I look like I'm hiding something," she said. "If I looked like my daughter-in-law, it'd be different."

Also in that camp was Barbara Duncan, accompanied by her hatless husband, Doug Duncan, who's trying to unseat Bob Ehrlich. "I didn't need a bad hair day," she said.

Bonnet-wearers were led by Helen Delich Bentley, in a light green bowl-style topper. The former congresswoman has a collection of 348 hats but hardly wears them anymore. Why not? She blames the women's movement, an unlikely heavy, given the purpose of the event: to raise money for the Maryland Women's Heritage Center.

"I had a thing for hats," she said, "and then along came Bella Abzug and that was that."

Experiencing technical difficulties

Of all the times for the Web site to be down! On the big day last week when news of Duncan's running mate was strategically leaked, this was the message on www.dougduncan.com:

"We're having a bit of a hicup today. Our server is having a minor problem that we're working on to fix right now. We'll be back in full force shortly. Thanks! Web Guys for Doug."

By the end of the week, the site was back up and the campaign's underdog sense of humor was focused back on Martin O'Malley, accusing Hizzoner of swiping the Montgomery county exec's ideas (a claim O'Malley has called "desperate.")

"O'Malley's March: The Mayor's Cover Band," the Duncan e-mail said. "Covering All of Doug Duncan's Greatest Hits."

Says O'Malley campaign manager Jonathan Epstein: "Doug Duncan's disturbing fascination with the mayor's former band reminds me of my niece's obsession with Clay Aiken."

Two routes, same destination

Former Gov. Parris Glendening, neutral in the Democratic primary for governor, looks at how Martin O'Malley and Doug Duncan chose their running mates and divines something about their management style. He thinks O'Malley's selection of Anthony Brown in December showed that he was "decisive" and "aggressive," while Duncan's picking Stuart Simms last week indicates that he is "slow and deliberative."

"Yet they came out at almost exactly the same place," by which Glendening means, two good candidates, both African Americans who hail from the other guy's backyard.

"That reflects their natures," he told The Sun's Jennifer Skalka. "That's the way they are."

We'll have to check back with him once Ehrlich makes his pick, to see what he reads between the lines there.

Make way for ducklings

A duck builds a nest, lays eggs, then sits and sits and sits. Simple enough. Unless, of course, she does it in a busy spot on the Johns Hopkins University Homewood campus. Then the springtime cycle-of-life thing gets complicated.

Phone calls to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Maryland DNR. Talk of fines of up to $500 for anyone messing with nesting waterfowl. Signs alerting passers-by to make way for ducklings. Not to mention a 4-foot, chain-link fence, erected by campus groundskeepers, who left openings so the ducks can come and go.

"I'm told by the groundskeepers that it's not unusual for birds to nest on campus, particularly near Decker Gardens by the president's residence, but this spot is a bit out in the open," says Amy Lunday, a Hopkins spokeswoman.

The spot the duck chose, just south of the Krieger Hall breezeway, does makes some sense. Lunday points out that the nest sits in a tulip patch that is shaped like - what else? - an egg.

Connect the dots

For those of you wondering why Patricia Jessamy, Baltimore's smashed-and-grabbed state's attorney, gets to ride around in a Denali, instead of run-of-the-mill GMC - rest assured, the city didn't shell out for it. A drug-dealer forfeited it in a bust. ... Another big fundraiser the other night for Larry Young, the once and maybe future state senator. This one, at Eden's Lounge, put on by a group that calls itself Run LY Run.

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