Gingrich planning Annapolis trip, state lawmaker says

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is planning a trip to Annapolis on Tuesday, a state delegate who is leading the candidate's Maryland campaign said, and could possibly venture onto the floors of one of the most liberal state legislative bodies in the nation.

Gingrich, who has lagged behind frontrunner Mitt Romney and conservative Rick Santorum since winning in his home state of Georgia earlier this month, would arrive Tuesday morning and walk along Main Street to talk with business owners, said state Del. Warren E. Miller, a Howard County Republican who is co-chairing Gingrich's campaign in the state.

A spokesman with the national Gingrich campaign has not responded to several requests to confirm the event -- and the candidates' schedules can shift rapidly.

Maryland's primary is April 3.

Miller said Gingrich also may be recognized in the state Senate and House of Delegates, two chambers in which Democrats vastly outnumber Republicans and, in the past year, have approved a same-sex marriage law, a measure offering in-state tuition to illegal immigrants and hundreds of millions of dollars in tax increases.  

Of course, those measures were passed over opposition from state Republicans and a visit to the General Assembly certainly doesn't imply consent of its legislation. Still, the optics of a conservative presidential candidate being recognized by Maryland Senate PresidentThomas V. Mike Miller, a Democrat who has pushed for many of those policies, would be unusual.

"He's not going to stand up in the front and speak to the body," Warren Miller, the delegate, said when asked about the possiblity of the appearance. "They are giving us the ability to get him in the chamber to watch how the Senate works."

Maryland's Senate leader said he'd be game to introduce Gingrich and noted that the Senate frequently gives a nod to guests, regardless of their party affiliation.

"If he comes, I'd introduce him," Miller, the Senate leader, said. "He's a former Speaker of the House."

Local officials said they are also trying to land Gingrich for an event later in the day on the Eastern Shore, though it was not yet clear how firm those plans are. It was also not yet clear if Gingrich would take part in any fundraisers while traveling through the state.

Romney stumped in Maryland on Wednesday at a town hall meeting in Arbutus.