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March 10, 2009

A nun, a reporter and the governor of Maryland walk into a bar...

Notes from Annapolis: A dispatch from the Baltimore Sun's Gadi Dechter

Just another Monday night in Annapolis: Gov. Martin O'Malley stops by Castlebay Irish Pub for a Guinness, is joined by Sister Helen PreJean for beery commiseration over their failed attempt to repeal the death penalty -- and ends the night reciting Yeats with his arm around that "skinny jerk" and scourge of execution-haters everywhere, Sen. Jim Brochin.

Our tale begins at 193 Main St., at an Irish watering hole popular with O'Malley and lawmakers who flock there after the Monday night session.

Moments earlier, the House of Delegates had offered a sort of sorry-it-didn't-work-out salute to death penalty foe Sister Helen Prejean (of Dead Man Walking fame). So when Del. Tom Hucker pops into Castlebay for a beer and sees the governor there, the Mongtomery County Democrat seizes an opportunity to make a match (and probably score some points with the gov in the process.)

Hucker, a former do-gooder activist/lobbyist, whips out his Blackberry and calls the death penalty opponents who had accompanied Prejean on this valedictory visit to the state capital. Hucker tells the Prejean entourage to turn the car around pronto and beat it back to the bar.

And so they do, and the group (among them activist Jane Henderson, lobbyist Jay Schwartz and Hucker) repaired to a quiet table where Prejean regales them with war stories from the anti-capital punishment trail, according to Hucker.

Meanwhile, who comes in but the unprepossing young(ish) senator who singlehandedly eviscerated the abolition bill last Tuesday with an amendment that simultaneously repealed the repeal and threw his august chamber into apparent chaos.

Brochin, as you can imagine, was not invited to joint the Prejean-O'Malley caucus. But he gamely made do with free drinks offered by circling reporters and easy chatter with Sen. Alex Mooney, a Republican and fellow defender of state executions.

And that's where it looked like it would end: winners at the bar, losers by the window, keeping their peace and distance, separated by philosophy, united only by a love of beer.

But then O'Malley, on his way back from the restroom, sidles up to Brochin, wraps one muscular gubernatorial arm around the shoulder and asks how the "skinny jerk" is doing.

Uneasy laughter all around. Brochin tries to make small talk with the governor, but O'Malley is preoccupied with weightier themes. He lifts his chin and recites into the half-empty bar the entirety of William Butler Yeats' great poem, "The Lake Isle of Innisfree."

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree, And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made: Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee, And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow, Dropping from the veils of the mourning to where the cricket sings; There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow, And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore; While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey, I hear it in the deep heart's core.

O'Malley, Hucker and Prejean in Castlebay

Posted by David Nitkin at 12:12 PM | | Comments (4)


Sounds like you were watching your Governor with goo goo eyes David!
Is that your man crush coming through?
Or is it more?
Next entry try to stick to something news worthy.
Who cares where our vapid Governor drinks or what he recites!
Why not ask him to fix slots, fix the budget or better yet lower taxes to truly help the citizens of Maryland!
Total complete nonsense sir.
So much for your objectivity!
David responds:

Jay -- I posted the item, but clearly marked on top that it was written by Gadi Dechter. I'm pretty sure Dechter doesn't have a man-crush on the governor, but don't you like having the eyes and ears of reporters out on the streets of Annapolis at late hours, seeing what goes on? I do! It was a great scene.

MY bad David!
I do want reporters not cheerleaders!
Reporters who will ask about the issues and not just suck up to our clueless leaders in Annapolis.
Why did Annapolis play politics with slots?
Slots are now ruined thanks to who?
The budget woes continues-one does Annapolis grow a pair and fix this mess?
Come on get to work!
Stop cheerleading!

Gadi doesn't have a political crush on O'Malley? Could've fooled this casual observer.

Skinny jerk... how many had O'Malley knocked down at that point? Let's be serious though, at least he wasn't alone this time. Some of us have seen him drinking alone... classic definition of a... well nevermind.

Does it bother anyone else that the Governor is busy soaking up the suds and arguing over 5 folks on death row while thousands of Marylanders lose their jobs and countless others face foreclosures? Talk about a crisis of priority.

What's next.. playing his guitar while passing tax hikes? oh, snap, he already did that.

A nun, a reporter and the governor of Maryland walk into a bar...the nun asks the bartender for a Virgin Mary. The reporter asks for a Shirley Temple and the Governor demands money from every patron in the bar for his drink tab.

A nun, a reporter and the governor of Maryland walk into a think ONE of would have seen it!

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About the bloggers
Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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