The Maryland Association of Counties annual summer event has arrived.
Even if you’re not part of Maryland’s political insiders’ club, Ocean City is the place to be for Maryland politics – at least for the next few days.
The institutional press will provide plenty of coverage of the convention, but A Miner Detail has a different plan.
The parties and receptions is the meat and potatoes of MACo. A Miner Detail has the juicy gossip.
Starting with Wednesday evening.
Compass Government Relations reception
Opening night featured three major-league Annapolis lobbying firms hosting bomb-ass receptions, replete with open bars, county executive stars, a few cigars – and, hopefully nobody landed behind bars (Is Rick Impallaria in town this week?).
Two afternoon receptions, held adjacent to one another – one sponsored by Compass Government Relations (Red Red Wine) and another by Alexander and Cleaver (Dry 85) – kicked off the evening party circuit.
Compass Government Relations opened its reception with a warm greeting from Rob and Hannah Garagiola, Annapolis’ most-likable business couple, who so happen to be joined in holy matrimony.
Mr. Garagiolo, a former Montgomery County state senator, introduced five of Maryland’s county executives, including MACo president Barry Glassman of Harford County (R), Howard County Executive Calvin Ball (D), Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner (D), Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman (D) and Baltimore County Executive John A. “Johnny O” Olszewski Jr. (D).
Also making an appearance: Baltimore City Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young (D).
Glassman, when handed the microphone, noted that it was his honor to be president of MACo this year. The Harford county executive kept his remarks short, for he had to quickly dash across the street to his own reception (more on that later).
Serving the first year of his first term, Mr. Ball plugged the good things happening in Howard County, telling the crowd of about 50 that “amazing things are happening.” He made a point to highlight his working relationship with the State of Maryland.
Several months into her second term, Gardner, a past president of MACo, pushed Frederick County as being at the center of “stem-cell manufacturing.”
“We hope to find the cure for cancer in Frederick County,” Gardner said. She also touted Frederick County as becoming a “high-tech hub.”
Another first-term county executive, Mr. Pittman, acknowledging that Anne Arundel had to raise taxes, said his county is “lowest taxed county” in Maryland. Pittman said he’s working to increase county services and affordable housing, pointing to Anne Arundel’s Workforce Housing Bill.
“We’ve inherited a little bit of a mess,” Olszewski said when it was his turn up to bat.
Baltimore’s new county executive said he was transforming the way government does business. He’s focused on building new schools and developing the first-ever tourism strategy.
Now into the third month as Baltimore City’s 51 st mayor, Jack Young – wearing a neck tie and khaki pants and accompanied by his wife – spoke directly to the City’s penetrating crime problems.
“Every day we’re working to reduce the violence in the City of Baltimore,” Young said, with obvious conviction. Young further used his brief remarks to highlight the City’s ongoing progress.
“People are moving to Baltimore City,” Young said.
Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Miller Jr. (D) also made a guest appearance but limited his remarks to salutations and warm praise for Mrs. Garagiola, a former Miller staffer.
The reception resumed to small talk and cocktails after Miller spoke. Several attendees noticed that Miller, who was diagnosed earlier this year with Stage 4 prostate cancer, was looking robust and healthy.
Alexander and Cleaver reception
Next door at Dry 85 around the same time, Alexander and Cleaver also hosted a reception, handing the microphone off to many of the same county executives who appeared at Compass’ Red Red Wine soiree only a few minutes prior.
The real news coming out of the A&C event is host Davion E. Percy’s promotion to vice president of the venerable Annapolis lobbying shop.
Percy, one of Annapolis’ most well-known and widely respected government relations consultants, is making big moves.
Congratulations to him.
Harford County Executive Barry Glassman reception
The president of MACo is expected to host a party worth remembering. Glassman delivered.
Held at the swanky Seacrets Distilling Company on 49th street, Glassman’s evening reception was a place of refuge to some of the more notable Maryland Republicans, including Gov. Larry Hogan, First Lady Yumi Hogan, Dirk Haire, the Maryland Republican Party chairman and his wife, Anne Arundel County Councilwoman Jessica Haire, and Maryland’s newest cabinet secretary, Tiffany Robinson, who was sworn in as Maryland’s secretary of labor only a few days ago.
Several of Hogan’s staffers also joined the party.
The room was packed. The bartenders were bustling about the bar. And the food spread featured some type of jerk-style chicken that deserves an honorable mention.
Also spotted: former Maryland Secretary of State Mary Kane and her husband, John Kane, a partner at the newly-formed Aton Strategies.
Bellamy Genn Group Reception, sponsored by Kaiser Permanente
Objectively one of the best receptions on opening night, Gil and Lorenzo can brag about having the best spread of food amid their lobbying competition.
Again, most anybody and everybody who is somebody in Maryland politics attended this get-together.
The evening-time reception was held at Bridge Deck at Sunset Grille in West Ocean City. The Ocean City staple is dubbed as the “Oasis of the Shore.” It certainly had the best view of the evening, and it was the perfect location for a memorable night of politics and schmoozing and boozing.
Notable guests included Prince George’s County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks (D), who at Tawes this year denied that she is entertaining any thoughts of running for governor in 2022, despite the constant chatter that she would be supported by Maryland’s Democratic political establishment over the political outsider Peter Franchot, another likely Democratic gubernatorial contender.
Another potential 2022 gubernatorial candidate was making the rounds amid the crowded group of politicos: U.S. Rep. Anthony G. Brown (D-Md.).
Brown, appearing noticeably thinner, is rumored to be giving thought to a second gubernatorial run next round.
Capitol Strategies reception/party
Leave it to the Capitol Strategies guys and gals to put on a show that everybody talks about the next day.
The Red Red Wine venue wasn’t nearly large enough to hold hundreds (literally) of Maryland’s most notable political insiders and rebel rousers.
Come 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday night, Red Red Wine’s bar was so packed inside that some may have waited upwards of 15 to 20 minutes for a drink. No joke. People were standing shoulder-to-shoulder. Some people were really sweaty, too.
Anybody and everybody involved in Maryland’s inner political sanctum was at this reception, including Melanie Miller, Senate President Miller’s pugnaciously audacious daughter.
Melanie, a legend in her own mind, couldn’t be missed. The impertinent Senate President’s daughter, the self-anointed belle of every political ball, held court – for an audience of one. Or maybe two.
The churlish political pistol, a drink in hand, nearly imploded when Comptroller Peter Franchot’s omnipresent chief of staff, Len Foxwell, pleasantly greeted Ms. Miller with a smile and a sideways hug (and maybe a handshake? It was dark).
Franchot’s name is never the safe word for Ms. Miller, who proceeded to lash out at Foxwell over whatever leftover anger – which is a lot, apparently – she has for his boss, Franchot.
It was ugly.
Then Ms. Miller turned her sights on A Miner Detail’s editor in chief Ryan Miner.
The insults biting. Unfit to print.
The most memorable insult though, was something about Miner performing fellatio on Franchot and being unfair to her father.
All in all, Cap Strategies’ 2019 MACo party is going to be tough to beat. They have bragging rights.
Pace yourselves, fellow MACo attendees: Night 2 is upon us.