Democrats rule Annapolis with glee
The Democratic luncheon held the day before the start of the General Assembly session has become an annual tradition. It's a welcome-back affair marked by a series of rah-rah speeches from federal and state officials.
The luncheon has been the forum for some terrific one-liners in the past, with the most memorable coming from Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller.
We're at the point now, though, where the zingers aren't so much fresh and new as they are refinements of past hits.
In 2004, the luncheon took place after Miller and House Speaker Michael E. Busch had spent a year feuding over slots and figuring out how to deal with a Republican governor upstairs for the first time in more than three decades. Busch and Miller had been at each other's throats, but the Senate president promised that the fighting was going to come to an end.
"How close are we going to be?" Miller asked the crowd. "He's going to eat the watermelon; I'm going to spit out the seeds." As The Baltimore Sun wrote at the time: "Then the State House rivals grasped hands and the room roared with applause." It was one of the best-remembered quotes of the year.
Busch made a reference to the watermelon quip today, but indicated that things are now even sweeter. "Today we are sharing whipped cream and strawberries," he said.
Another Miller zinger came in 2006, as Democrats were gearing up for an election battle between Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley and Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.
Miller pledged that Democrats would "get together and we're going to shoot [Republicans] down. We're going to put them in the ground. We're going to bury them upside-down, and it'll be 10 years before they crawl out again."
And so began a session of less-than-ideal bipartisan cooperation.
After last year's election, Miller said yesterday he's feeling energized and excited, budget deficits notwithstanding.
Not too many years ago, "Republicans were riding high," Miller said, according to the Sun's Laura Smitherman. "They had a Republican President of the United States. They had a Republican governor. They had aides walking around with black notebooks with people in the house they were targeting. Ehrlich was doing very well in polls."
"I said, you know they are riding high right now but what’s going to happen is we’re going to come together and we’re going to shoot 'em down. We’re going to shoot 'em down and we’re going to bury them face down, deep and far. So deep and far it’s going to take 20 years for them to come out the other side. They’ll see China from there. But I was wrong. It’s going to take 40 years for them to recover from what we did to them in 2008."
And so begins another session with Democrats in control in Annapolis.