It might have shocked some Marylanders to see Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, a man reviled by many Republican voters, hanging out and schmoozing at a reception thrown by GOP senators.
But it didn't surprise anyone familiar with the way Miller has done business in his 30 years of leading that chamber. And to Miller, there was no better place to be that at the Ropewalk Tavern in Ocean City, where politicians from around the state are gathered for the annual convention of the Maryland Association of Counties.
"There are 14 Republican senators," said the leader of the 47-member Senate. "They're an important part of our Senate family."
With pride, he recalled that the Senate voted unanimously to approve Republican Gov. Larry Hogan's budget.
There was no sign of the prevailing vitriol in national politics as Hogan administration officials mingled at the Ropewalk's sandy outdoor bar with senators and delegates of both parties, county elected officials, Democratic U.S. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger -- and, inevitably, a horde of lobbyists.
Sen. James Rosapepe, a Prince George's County Democrat, said the bipartisan cordiality would be a surprise "only to people who think the partisan dysfunction in Washington is baked into the American character."
"That isn't Maryland. That isn't the Maryland Senate," he said.
The prime host of the gathering, Minority Leader J.B. Jennings, agreed.
"Annapolis is not like D.C.," he said. "We all work together well."
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