Thursday, June 21, 2007

Political notes

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From State Dems, a nod to county?

Prince George’s County was ground zero for the Maryland Democratic Party last weekend, as the State Central Committee converged on Lanham to elect a new party chairman.

Baltimore businessman and activist Michael Cryor was elected unanimously at the meeting to succeed Terry Lierman, who left the chairmanship to become chief of staff for House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Dist. 5) of Mechanicsville in May.

Earlier this month, the Prince George’s County Central Committee held a fundraiser nearby, where Gov. Martin O’Malley and Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown sang the praises of the county that gave Democrats some of the highest margins of victory in the state in last year’s general election.

Though county Dems were complaining earlier this year that the state was ignoring them in spite of their contribution, that seems to have changed.

Political sideshow

There was a brief sideshow last week in Lanham as the State Central Committee voted in Michael Cryor as its new party chairman when congressional candidate Donna Edwards was tossed out of the meeting.

Edwards, who is challenging U.S. Rep. Albert Wynn (D-Dist. 4) of Mitchellville, was in the crowd with campaign materials when the encounter happened. One of the electrical union reps who runs the Lanham building where the event was being held apparently didn’t appreciate her presence, and confronted her.

Edwards said Charles Graham, one of the managers for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers local 26 office, told her he was a Wynn supporter and that she was ‘‘not welcome.” So she left. But she said others in the room had on buttons for presidential candidates, so she felt she should be able to campaign as well.

Edwards was indignant.

‘‘I’m a lifelong Democrat, and I felt that those are things that should be open to all in the party,” she said. ‘‘I’m not going to be intimidated ... or mistreated in the process [of campaigning].”

She said neither the local Central Committee nor the state party had anything to do with her being kicked out. Graham could not be reached for comment.

Preservationistsenter statue debate

A group of Prince George’s preservationists is jumping into a debate initiated by Cheverly residents over a controversial Annapolis statue.

The statue in question depicts the late U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, a Maryland native and the author of the Dred Scott decision, which upheld slavery throughout the nation. His statue outside the State House was dedicated in 1872.

The activist group Progressive Cheverly recently started asking that the statue be moved to a less prominent place, given Taney’s history. The movement seemed to be contained to Cheverly, but now the Prince George’s Historic Preservation Commission has started asking questions.

The commission has not taken a position on the statue yet, but has drafted a sharply worded letter to Gov. Martin O’Malley and other state officials, asking why the statue was originally placed in Annapolis.

‘‘Sometimes with such reminders before us, we risk misunderstanding the genuine significance of issues such as slavery and segregation,” the letter reads.

‘‘Lets find out what was the reason for the statue being there ... there might be a more appropriate place to put the statue, and something more appropriate to put in its place,” said commission member Henry Turner Jr. at the group’s Tuesday meeting, where the letter was approved.

‘‘I think this is well worth pursuing,” commission member Joyce Hawkins said.

Chairman David Turner said he expects an uphill battle if the group actually decides to push for the statue’s removal.

Voice of Wynn moves on

U.S. Rep. Albert Wynn’s (D-Dist. 4) deputy press secretary has announced she’s heading West – so to speak.

Sarah Misailidis, who has been with Wynn for two years, will make June 29 her last day for the Mitchellville congressman, before moving on to a similar job under California Sen. Barbara Boxer (D).

Misailidis is leaving as Wynn’s reelection campaign is just getting underway. Wynn kicked off the 2008 race two weeks ago in Upper Marlboro, even though he only finished up his last race in November 2006. The campaign has already attracted challengers, including Fort Washington attorney Donna Edwards, who gave the eight-term incumbent a stiff challenge last year, and real estate agent George Mitchell.

Nominees sweep through confirmation

The latest round of County Exec Jack Johnson’s nominees for myriad planning and development positions were all confirmed Tuesday before the County Council.

Sarah Cavitt and Sylvester Vaughns were confirmed to the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission; Shirley Mae Anglin, Avner ‘‘Jim” Young and Leroy Brown were confirmed to the Housing Authority; and Victor Njowusi, Jerry Russel, Lanard Geddings and Giovanni Vannall were confirmed to the Redevelopment Authority.