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December 12, 2006

Mooney Wins, Frederick Loses

Roy Meachum

In two days the Maryland State Senate will have a new minority leader. The choice has come down to Baltimore County's Andrew Harris or Frederick Sen. David Brinkley. Going into the weekend, GOP legislators were precisely split, 7-7.

Throwing the important leader's post up for grabs was the sole surviving Katzenjammer Kid, Alex Mooney. Never have I seen a young politician filled with such ambition; he makes no secret of his designs on Rep. Roscoe Bartlett's chair in Washington. He might as well wear a bright button pleading for votes. The big problem, as I see it, the congressman has no plans to quit; that's the sense of our conversations over the past year.

Mr. Mooney has all but written his name on the Capitol Hill door; he staked out his intentions during his first years in the General Assembly when he joined the congressman's son, Del. Joe Bartlett, in playing a series of buffoonish jokes, based on the fact that nobody in Annapolis knew them. They could, therefore, pretend to be each other. Shakespeare's full of a lot of that mistaken identity stuff; I rarely am amused. In the event, they subsequently both married and to charming ladies!

Having gone partially on record, I feel impelled to compliment Sallie Brinkley who's adding a nurse's degree to a lawyer's certificate. When her husband ran for party whip, Mr. Mooney chose his personal plans over local needs and voted for the same Mr. Harris who won in the spring. The minority leader slot opened when the Eastern Shore's Lowell Stoltzfus decided this will be his last term in the General Assembly.

After all those years observing Democrats run rough-shod over any and all opposition, he's had enough. Next winter's cold and rain may very well find him spreading sunburn oil down by the warm sands; he's earned it.

You can wonder if the Eastern Shore squire had sensed the hammering his party would take in elections, if Mr. Stoltzfus might not have bailed out this year. Stepping out, he voted with his feet against the hope of an eventual return of a GOP strong man, capable of sweeping the electorate off its feet and training Democrats to be nice. That's not about to happen soon. Two years down the pike, with Iraq's story more bloody and heartbreaking, anyone dreaming for a new Republican kingdom in Annapolis should chug one more and let the snow fly.

As you know, Republicans in the General Assembly saw their ranks shrink on November 7. As with the rest of the country, voters shied away from George W. Bush's party. Fundamentally, Americans want politicians out of sight unless they bring "good news or money." The president came with neither.

All that means, for our immediate purposes, that GOP loyalists should be out digging for funding. Leading the pack is Mr. Mooney. His success in the past three General Assembly legislatures has come from the loads of loot that he flowed into others' campaign coffers.

Aside from money, Mr. Mooney has little to show for his time hanging around Annapolis. To the best of my knowledge he's never occupied a leadership position, primarily I am told because he lacks respect from fellow legislators. Indeed, he's gone out his way to antagonize one and all; Mr. Harris seems a notable exception.

David Brinkley, on the other hand, possesses that personal silence that commands respect. When he speaks, other people tend to listen. And all Alex Mooney's huffing and puffing simply don't compare. The world does not exist in his navel. Shame on him for having denied Frederick County a leadership role in the spring. Local voters can only hope Tuesday he loses, everybody else wins.

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