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May 18, 2010

A Senate Fight: Alex Mooney

Roy Meachum

The lack of activity to unseat state Sen. David Brinkley is encouraging; it is also a tribute to the low key that he brings to the job. Although of different political persuasions, David attracted my admiration long ago.


His colleague Alexander Xavier Mooney is totally a different kettle of fish. His juvenile pranks his first Senate term destroyed any possible respect I might have had for him. He clowned around in the company of Del. Joe Bartlett (R., Frederick 4A); their foolishness and caprice earned the name from me of the “Katzenjammer Kids.”


An old comic strip I remembered from its appearance in The New Orleans Times-Picayune when I was a kid. A cat fight, the Germans use Katzenjammer for what we call a hangover. In any event, the other Kid, Joe Bartlett, settled down to become a responsible legislator; Senator Mooney did not.


This is not how our relationship started out.


Younger than all my children, fresh-faced Alex came into my life under the aegis of Anita Stup; there’s no one I respect more. She held the post of president of the Board of County Commissioners when I first wrote about her. When she called to ask if she could bring along this young man, who she hoped would unseat state Sen. Jack Derr, Anita was a member of the House of Delegates.


For more than 10 years, on New Year’s Eve, my former wife and I threw a highly successful party primarily for Frederick’s movers and shakers; it started shortly after I began the column for The Frederick News-Post. Anita was both a mover and a shaker, maybe the strongest female politician I’ve known since moving here from Bethesda.


The boyish looking young man who appeared by her side was the son, as it turned out, of Vince Mooney, who would sometimes call me and exhaustively trot out his views on anything in the world. I don’t remember Vince ever speaking of Alex; he may have.


At the time, Delegate Stup was still engaged in a dust-up with the local political machine; her gender didn’t fit in and her attitude was too flippant, not submissive at all. Del. James E. (Doc) McClellan (D., Frederick 3A) expected more respect; she gave him little. Furthermore, she won with the voters, a cachet that wasn’t supposed to come without his blessing. After her first term in Annapolis, Frederick’s political boss felt it wise to fold his political career.


In the world according to Doc McClellan, conservative Democrats ruled. Jack Derr was the token Republican, handpicked by the sometime veterinarian who counted on the senator to dance to his jig. This included, especially, harassing fellow Republican Anita Stup and all other non-conformists. The other seat in the upper house was held by Charlie Smelser – a prime example of my acceptance of a public official when we disagreed on some major issues.


The big difference about Alex Mooney was he was a member of the GOP. Lurking behind the façade was overweening ambition; after a dozen years in the legislature he is still only 38, for the next several weeks. There is little convincing proof that he serves the county rather than himself and his overweening, etc.


In personal contacts, people do not find him always nice, mainly because of the arrogance he wears around like a silk hat on a Texas millionaire.


On Friday, we will discuss the proven official who makes this Senate seat such a race this year: longtime Frederick Mayor Ron Young.


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