Munson borrows a golden scheme

January 30, 1999|By LAURA ERNDE

ANNAPOLIS - Most anyone who ever met the late Louis L. Goldstein got a gold coin imprinted with his trademark phrase, "God bless you all real good."

Less than a year after the popular Maryland politician died, Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, has adopted Goldstein's golden idea.

"It worked for him, so I figured it would work for me," Munson said.

For the last month, Munson has been giving away gold coins that are nearly identical to Goldstein's.

Munson's coins are stamped with his own name and the message, "Senator Don Munson works for you."

Munson said he has Goldstein's blessing.

Before Goldstein died last July at age 85, Munson had asked the 40-year Maryland comptroller where he got the coins. Goldstein obliged, with a caveat.

"He told me, he said, 'This is my trademark. I'd appreciate if you would wait until I'm not holding office to do it,'" Munson said.


Munson shelved the idea - until now.

Munson got his first shipment of coins from the Roger Williams Mint in Attleboro, Mass., on Dec. 22.

It's a good ice-breaker, he says.

Munson has even handed them to people while he's in the grocery store and asked them if there's anything he can do for them as their state senator.

Marvin A. Bond, who worked with Goldstein for 28 years, said he wasn't surprised someone copied the idea.

"It was certainly effective for Louie. That was sort of a hallmark. Louie and the gold coin just seemed to go together," said Bond, who's the assistant state comptroller.

Goldstein got the idea in 1985, when he went to Mardi Gras and saw people throwing gold doubloons from floats, Bond said.

He combined that with the pennies and nickels he saw other politicians using as campaign trinkets.

Bond found the mint in Massachusetts, which also makes subway tokens, and ordered the first batch for a few cents apiece. They debuted during Goldstein's 1986 re-election campaign.

The die from the coin is part of a growing collection of Goldstein memorabilia which is being collected for posterity and may eventually go on display, Bond said.

So far, few people have received Munson's coins.

Even other members of the local delegation to the Maryland General Assembly were not aware of the gimmick.

"I stole Munson's recipe idea, so I can't criticize," said Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington.

Taking after Munson, Shank put recipes on his campaign flyers in the hopes they would be tacked on the fridge instead of tossed in the trash can.

"One thing in politics, you learn by example," said Rick L. Hemphill, chairman of the Washington County Democratic Central Committee.

Hemphill said his daughter collected a bunch of the Goldstein coins and used them as play money.

Hemphill doubts that the coin will be as effective for Munson as it was for Goldstein. A money symbol is a more logical memento for a comptroller, who collects state taxes, he said.

"Well, I guess imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," he said.

Other than the coins, the two politicians have little in common, Hemphill said.

Munson is a Republican and Goldstein was a Democrat.

Goldstein was a dynamic figure in state politics while Munson sits on the state Budget and Tax Committee "very quietly," Hemphill said.

Both have a long history of public service, but Munson's 24 years seem like a blink compared to the 60 that Goldstein served until he died of a heart attack while campaigning for comptroller.

Dick Everhart, a member of the Washington County Republican Central Committee, was one of the first to get a Munson coin.

"It's cute and it's a nice little thing to give to his friends and his constituents," Everhart said.

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