January 15, 2010

Analysis: No kamikaze mission for O’Donnell

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What’s this about Del. Tony O’Donnell, the Maryland House minority leader, running against U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer?

Well, it all depends when you talk to O’Donnell.

A new site, Center Maryland, reported Wednesday morning that U.S. House Minority Whip Eric Cantor was spotted at Harry Browne’s restaurant across from the State House. It said “sources” told the site that he was meeting with O’Donnell. The story pondered whether Cantor was recruiting O’Donnell, a Calvert County delegate, to run against Hoyer.

O’Donnell put down the story Thursday speaking to over 200 economic development officials, reworking a Mark Twain quote.

“The reports of my demise – my political suicide – are greatly exaggerated,” he said. Later in the day he told MarylandReporter.com that “it was a chance encounter” with Cantor and he said he didn’t know why the Virginia congressman was in Annapolis. O’Donnell read out loud an e-mail that he fired off to Center Maryland complaining that the author of the article hadn’t bothered to call him to check out the rumor.

But in talking earlier to Alan Brody at the Gazette, O’Donnell’s comments seemed to leave the door open to a congressional run.

What gives, Tony? Friday morning, I showed him the story by Brody, which carried the underliner, “GOP leader could be Hoyer opponent.” O’Donnell laughed, and admitted the quotes were accurate.

“Anything’s possible. Time can change anything, but my intention is to run for re-election to the Maryland House of Delegates with the genuine hope that Congressman Hoyer moderates his positions,” he said in The Gazette.

O’Donnell said he doesn’t plan to run against the second highest ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives – but he does enjoy kidding around about it. And he doesn’t mind fueling the speculation of higher office.

However, he swears “political suicide” is not part of his current game plan.