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February 1, 2013

Political Black Eye

Roy Meachum

Galen Clagett’s photo appeared on the local newspaper’s front page last Friday, above the headlines. In no way fame-shy, he still could not have liked the publicity. Later in the day, Alderman Karen Young was long scheduled to announce her run for the top office in City Hall. Mr. Clagett and Ms. Young are Democrats.


Furthermore, her husband has been frequently a political ally of Mr. Clagett; they ran for the Board of Aldermen together in 1969. State Sen. Ron Young is of the same age. They arrived in Frederick politics about the same time when the machine, all Democrats, was dictated by Del. James E. “Doc” McClellan; that before Western Maryland took on a Republican tinge.


Mr. Clagett’s ambition was “outed” by a fellow delegate. GOP’s Michael Hough averred the former president of the county commissioners was putting in for mayoralty of this city. In the almost 30 years, since 1984, I’ve known the politician as a columnist; I can’t remember his ambition for municipal office. Sometime after he left his Winchester Hall desk, he entered the race for Sixth District congressman; he was defeated by a combination of incumbent Roscoe Bartlett’s strength and devious tactics practiced by Mr. McClellan.


But Mr. Hough told The Frederick News-Post: “He said, ‘If all goes well I won’t be down here because I’m running for the mayor of Frederick.’” The Republican delegate affirmed to reporter Pete McCarthy: “That was 99 percent of his quote. No doubt about it.”


There’s significant doubt about what he recalls.


Michael Hough came into my life by managing State Sen. Alex Mooney’s 2002 campaign for re-election. Eight years later, he ran for the House of Delegates with Mr. Mooney’s blessing and considerable backing. Ronald Young efficiently dumped the state senator to earn his present title. The defeated senator ran for and won the state GOP chairmanship.


All his county political life, Mr. Hough will be known as Mr. Mooney’s protégé. When I’m confronted with a sensationalist statement from the delegate, I’m not alone in the community for seeing how it gains his mentor.


While I remember Galen Clagett, as president of the Board of County Commissioners, pushing for the charter form of county government, and I heartily supported him. The change was defeated. That was in 1991. His opponents were led by one-term Frederick Mayor Paul Gordon in the public forum. Dr. McClellan and his colleagues lurked out of sight but not far away.


Following the history of charter government in this county, the proposal failed that November. Various circumstances were cited; most of all the voting was in an off-year. Nobody’s name appeared on the ballot. This was not an election, but simply the question of the charter.


Michael Hough has been regarded as a talking dummy on Edgar Bergen-Alex Mooney’s knee; the senator furnished the voice. In this instance, he might not want the office of county executive for himself. But as state GOP chairman, he yearns for the potentially powerful position for his party. Setting up the probable Democratic candidate figures; Mr. Clagett can be depicted as changeable, whatever the outcome.


There is no kudos for the News-Post here. The political black eye reflects on every journalist.


Ya hosarra!


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