Former Eastern Shore congressman Bob Bauman responds to Barry Rascovar’s column published Sunday.
I am surprised that none of the Baltimore and D.C. press coverage of the Western Maryland “secession” drama has included the issue of Statehood for the Eastern Shore, an issue I championed as state senator for the Upper Shore in 1972. Certainly Barry Rascovar should recall that event. (Todd Eberly discussed it briefly in his Sept. 11 column on secession.)
If any area of Maryland has a right to feel neglected it is the Shore, maligned by the late Governor Schaefer as the “out house” of Maryland and by H.L. Mencken as “booboisie.” It is viewed by O’Malley as a hotbed of Tea Party Republicans who cannot be gerrymandered congressionaly, unfortunately from his very partisan perspective.
In 1972 I sponsored a bill to allow a referendum on the issue in my five upper shore counties (Cecil, Kent, Caroline, Queen Anee’s, Talbot). We had a major pro-statehood rally at the State House that drew about a thousand people from all over the shore, complete with Shore food (oysters, crabs, chicken) music and speeches. Of course the Democrats, led by the late Sen. Fred Malkus, blocked my bill but the publicity contributed to my election to the House in a special election in 1973.
Research will show that advocacy of Eastern Shore statehood goes back to the 1800s when there were two administrative co-capital cities, one in Annapolis and the other in Easton with separate state treasurers, comptrollers and secretaries of state — and the only transportation connection was by boat.
When I was asked at the Statehood Rally by a WTOP reporter what the Eastern Shore state would be called, I replied: “Maryland — let those other folks on the western shore get another name.”
Bauman now lives in Florida.