Delegate holding out olive branch

February 03, 2008|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

ANNAPOLIS -- Republican Del. Christopher B. Shank said he wants to mend his icy relationship with Democratic Del. John P. Donoghue -- for the sake of their constituents.

"It's time that we bury the hatchet," Shank said Thursday in an interview in his Annapolis office. "We've got some differences, differences in politics, but ultimately, the people of Washington County are expecting us to pull together. ...

"I hope that Delegate Donoghue is willing to do that for the good of the county. It doesn't serve anybody to have this hostility and tension. ..."

On Friday, Donoghue didn't respond to a message at his Annapolis office asking for his reaction to Shank's wish for reconciliation. He couldn't be reached on his cell phone or at his home Friday or Saturday.


Others in the Washington County delegation -- which includes Donoghue and seven Republicans -- said they would like to see Donoghue and

Shank get along better and that they hope Shank's offer leads to progress.

"It's better to have a united front than a divided front," said Sen. George C. Edwards, R-Garrett/Allegany/Washington.

"I think any time people want to ask for forgiveness and (to) start fresh, whoever's doing that, it could be productive," said Republican Del. LeRoy E. Myers Jr., delegation chairman.

"Unfortunately, it takes both individuals to forget they're in the political arena," he added.

Sen. Alex X. Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington, didn't want to comment on Shank and Donoghue.

"I just try to get along with everybody as best I can," he said.

'John feels hurt'

Shank said he isn't sure why Donoghue is mad at him, but he suspects the reason is Shank's strong backing of Republican Paul Muldowney, whom Donoghue defeated in the 2006 election.

Republican Del. Robert A. McKee said that certainly is a reason.

Shank, as a Republican leader, had an active role in a GOP effort to unseat Donoghue, McKee said.

In the 1990s, Shank worked as a legislative assistant for the delegation, with Donoghue's support. At the time, Donoghue, as chairman, described Shank's work for the delegation as "nothing less than stellar" and effectively aided Shank's run for office by not endorsing his Democratic opponent, D. Bruce Poole, the incumbent.

The turnabout after several years probably is what stings, McKee said.

"Where John feels hurt by Chris is his very partisan role in the 2006 campaign, ..." McKee said. "He kind of gave Chris his start ... and Chris does his job to (try to) take him out of office. It didn't work. The Donoghue name was very well respected in Hagerstown."

Shank said Thursday that although he's committed to the GOP, he'd like to build, or rebuild, a working relationship with Donoghue.

"I bear John no ill will," he said. "I have respect for John and have always respected John, and although I have ideological differences with him, haven't personalized those differences. ...

"What's past is the past. It's important that we put those partisan differences behind us."

Donoghue, who has held Democratic leadership positions, is serving his fifth term. Shank, the House minority whip, is in his third term.

Absent from meetings

Last month, Donoghue said he didn't plan to attend Washington County delegation meetings this session.

"It's not a productive use of my time, especially with a Republican who filed a lawsuit against the governor," he said, referring to an effort by GOP lawmakers, including Shank, to invalidate the recent special session.

A much-ruminated theory has been that Donoghue was upset about being excluded from one or more functions to which Republicans in the delegation were invited.

McKee wondered about that last year, when he publicly asked Myers, the new delegation chairman, if all members would be invited to delegation meetings.

McKee later said Donoghue was excluded from a delegation meeting at least once and called it "inappropriate."

Shank on Thursday took steps to debunk the notion that he, as chairman, excluded Donoghue.

He gave The Herald-Mail copies of e-mails showing that Donoghue was invited to several delegation events.

The only two times he recalled Donoghue being left out were functions organized by Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich -- a meeting about correctional officers and a press conference to announce the hiring of more officers. In both cases, Ehrlich decided who attended, Shank said.

Shank said he took his role as delegation chairman seriously and wouldn't have commingled it with his party role.

McKee talked with Shank last week and saw the same e-mails. He acknowledged Saturday that there's nothing to indicate Shank left Donoghue out of delegation gatherings.

Regardless, Shank, as chairman, could have seen that Donoghue was notified about all events unless Ehrlich specifically ordered otherwise, McKee said.

When Democrat Parris N. Glendening was governor and tried to give only Democrats in the Washington County delegation ample notice for events, Shank, as legislative assistant, would contact all of the delegation members, McKee said.

Communication gaps

The Herald-Mail Articles