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Off-year Clambake Still Draws Crowds

Wednesday's 31st annual J. Millard Tawes Crab and Clam Bake served up thousands of Maryland crabs, fried clams and steamers, cobs of corn and watermelons --and plenty of politicians, considering it's an off-year for elections.

The seafood and political schmoozefest in Crisfield drew a collection of suburban and rural lawmakers from Del. Brian Feldman (D) chairman of the Montgomery County delegation to LeRoy Myers, Jr. (R-Allegany).

Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown made the rounds in a white polo shirt and khakis before boarding a boat for a tour of Eastern Shore oyster beds. "You haven't experienced Maryland till you've experienced the Tawes crabfest!" Brown declared before a gaggle of local television cameras. "It's what you do."

Comptroller Peter Franchot and his entourage were shaking hands a few feet away. Asked to assess the Tawes experience in a year with no statewide campaigns, he claimed an advantage in connecting with voters: "I get a great reception because it's an off year.They always associate insincerity with an election!" he said.

Absent from the party were Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) and the other statewide elected official, Attorney General Douglas Gansler (D). The governor was busy discussing soil conservation with farmers on Solomon's Island at the annual meeting of the Maryland Association of Soil Conservation Districts. Gansler spokesman Raquel Gillory said her boss chose to work rather than party. "He's very busy being the attorney general," she said.

Next year's dual primaries for the 1st District congressional seat held by Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest drew a lot of political chatter. The race to unseat the nine-term Eastern Shore Republican is likely to be Maryland's hottest next year. Supporters of Sen. Andrew Harris (R-Baltimore County), the congressman's challenger from the right, were out in full force yesterday--as were Queen Anne's County state's attorney Frank Kratovil and Dorchester County attorney Christopher Robinson, who will battle for the Democratic nomination.

Lobbyist Bruce Bereano, a fixture at the clambake for a quarter-century, moved his office from Annaopolis to a white tent, where he treated his clients to front-row seats at the event. Bereano wiped a sweaty brow with a handerchief.

"Hattie, I love ya!" he yelled out to Del. Hattie N. Harrison(D-Baltimore), as her wheelchair was wheeled out of the tent.

By Lisa Rein  |  July 19, 2007; 12:09 PM ET
Categories:  Lisa Rein  
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