March 4, 2010

Analysis: O’Malley ties one on with Lazarick

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“I regret that I have but one tie to give to my governor,” says I as I stripped off my bright red Van Heusen silk and handed it to Martin O’Malley.

I had hung around the governor’s reception room after a news conference on a teacher survey followed by a “gaggle,” an impromptu question session with mostly TV reporters. As the media questioned O’Malley, the room filled with members of Delta Sigma Theta, the college sorority for women at historically black universities founded at Howard University in 1913.

They were all dressed in various shades of red dresses, suits and jackets, and had come up for a photo opportunity with O’Malley on Delta Day in Annapolis. His appointments secretary, Jeanne Hitchcock, had been Miss Delta at Morgan State University, class of 1968.

I had hung around to see what might transpire as the governor interacted with what you would call a core Democratic constituency.

The governor was wearing his usual bland dark blue suit and a green-and-blue striped regimental tie with a white shirt. As the group of red-bedecked women gathered for a group photo, O’Malley looked at me and said something like, “Len, can I have your tie?”

Why not? I took off mine, he took off his. He knotted it on without a mirror, and then posed for a series of shots for an official photographer and for women with their own digital cameras.

“I haven’t been around so many strong women since I left the house this morning,” O’Malley told them, a line I first heard him use at a women’s campaign rally on the ship Lady Baltimore in 2006. The gov talked to the women about best schools in the nation, the difficulties of the current economy, and how he was spending less in the general fund than in the year he took office – compared to a “33 percent” increase by his unnamed predecessor, Republican Gov. Bob Ehrlich who is contemplating a rematch. It was all pretty standard O’Malley messaging.

I thought of swapping ties, but I really didn’t want a green-and-blue striped regimental tie, even if it did belong to the governor.

The governor handed back my tie and headed back into his inner office to meet with Valery Pavlinovich Shantsev, governor of Nizhny Novgorod, the fourth largest city in Russia.

Shouldn’t you wear a red tie when you meet with Russians? Well, not mine at least. I was saving it for tonight’s dinner with Senates Past, the annual event with former members of the Maryland Senate. Red is the Senate’s official color too.

–Len Lazarick