Look, Muffy, it's one of ours in Congress

The race for Congress in Maryland's 1st District just got a whole lot preppier, with the addition of Lilly Pulitzer to the campaign. The queen of pink and green isn't running, but one of her devoted fashion victims jumped into the race this week.

Robert Banks, who was special assistant to Maryland's transportation secretary under Gov. Bob Ehrlich, filed this week to run against incumbent Rep. Wayne Gilchrest and state Sen. Andy Harris in the Republican primary.


Banks, 38, lives in Mount Washington - outside the district that stretches from Ocean City to Cecil County, including parts of Harford and Baltimore counties. The Constitution, surprisingly, does not require that U.S. representatives actually reside in their districts. Nor does it require them to dress in charcoal, navy and black - equally surprising since official Washington drapes itself in drab.

Banks, the sales and marketing director at The Canton Group, a technology company, is running as an outsider who would bring change to Washington. No doubt he'd make good on that promise from the moment he took the oath of office with one hand on a Lisa Birnbach handbook.


Not that Banks would sport his "Real Men Wear Pink" T-shirt at the Capitol. He'd wear something dressier, like his tangerine pinwale corduroys embroidered with racing greyhounds.

Banks is the father of an 11-year-old and 8-year-old twins - all girls, whom he described as "addicted to Lilly Pulitzer." The whole family shops at The Pink Crab.

Does Banks take his fashion cues from his daughters, or vice versa?

"I guess I've been preppy all my life," he said. "I just like fun clothes. You can't take life too seriously all the time."

Sighs of relief: Detente in Arbutus

Two days after a minor earthquake rattled Arbutus, a more powerful, political temblor struck Paul's Restaurant. Here's how much ground shifted the second time: Paul's co-owner Clem Kaikis more or less patched things up with Paul Hollinger, husband of former state Sen. Paula Hollinger.

Paul's is home of the Arbutus Roundtable, a group of armchair political analysts who've been happily sparring over lunch for 30 years. Happily, that is, until last year's governor's race.

With an Arbutan trying to hold onto Government House and Kaikis firmly in his camp, the sparring got ugly. Kaikis, ticked off that Paula Hollinger had become a vocal Bob Ehrlich critic, took her picture down from the wall. He also supported Paula Hollinger's rival in the 3rd Congressional District race, John Sarbanes, who eventually won the seat. The rest of the roundtable, angry that Kaikis wouldn't allow anti-Ehrlich speakers, bolted to another restaurant.


After the election, most of the rebels returned to Paul's. But Paul Hollinger was a holdout. The guy who'd led the revolt, Salvatore "Mannie" Anello, persuaded him last week to break bread with Kaikis. They chose neutral territory, the Macaroni Grill off Joh Avenue. There was tension, but also mussels and mushroom caps. By the time Kaikis picked up the tab, Hollinger said he'd come back to Paul's.

"He extended his hand," Kaikis said. "We shook hands and moved on."

Hollinger was less upbeat, but said he "can't harbor a grudge indefinitely."

"I wouldn't call it a reconciliation," he said. "I would say it's detente."

A primer in O'Malleyspeak

Martin O'Malley & Co. were full of action verbs the other day, as the governor called for a special session to pass his budget plan.


"The Governor's budget plan includes: 1) Reform the income tax to make it more progressive and fair. 2) Reduce property taxes. 3) Close corporate loopholes," the official press release read.

Sounds OK, until you get further down the list. Then it sounds Orwellian.

No. 5: "Protect education by making the Thornton law sustainable." I think the phrase they were looking for was "weasel out" of Thornton. That's the whopping education spending plan that candidate O'Malley vowed less than a year ago to "fully fund."

Then, No. 8: "Modernize the sales tax - so it's still in line with surrounding states." How about, "Jack up the sales tax - so it's still in line with surrounding states, except Delaware"?

You remember Delaware, don't you? The governor keeps invoking the First State when he's pushing slots, but he leaves our tax-free-shopping neighbor off the map when he talks sales tax.