October 5, 1978, Thursday, Final Edition
SECTION: Metro; C1
LENGTH: 763 words
HEADLINE: Lee's Mood Deflated After Loss;
Lee's Mood Deflated After Primary Loss;
Occasional Seclusion, Melancholy Seen
BYLINE: By Michael Weisskopf, Washington Post Staff Writers
A year ago, Blair Lee III was riding high, savoring the attention and trappings of his new job as acting governor of Maryland, freely expousing
his unconventional political views and busily preparing for his first legislative session.
Today, three weeks after his surprise defeat in the Democratic
primary for governor, Lee's mood has changed drastically.Instead of his
self-confidence and jocular manner, his associates find him sedate and given to occasional bouts of melancholy.
"He's gone through an extreme disappointment," said Lee's
press secretary, Thom L. Burden, "Losing the election is an item that takes
getting used to. He's still going through a period of adjustment."
Since the September 12 primary, Lee has spent about a third
of his work days relaxing on the state yacht or in the garden of his Silver
home. At least one cabinet secretary has complained of difficulty in reaching him for a decision.
He has steadfastly avoided the press, refusing to grant
interviews and canceling his last three news conferences. He also has declined
attend the upcoming annual convention of the state Chamber of Commerce, an affair regularly attended by governors. He has spent long hours
meeting with old friends to reminisce about his 30 years in state government. Last week, he entertained his personal staff on the state yacht
and has promised some aides he would appoint them to secure state jobs.
After completing an unusually brief Board of Public Works
meeting yesterday and encountering a handful of State House reporters who
waiting for a chance to ask him questions, Lee reluctantly consented to grant a group interview.
While acknowledging the "disappointment" of not being able
to complete some programs, he said he "fully recovered" from his political
days after the primary and felt relieved to have the burden of governing lifted.
"It's a luxurious feeling," he said. "I keep stumbling across problems I won't have to wrestle with."
Asked if he still had his heart in his job as lame-duck
acting governor, he said, "It's not so much my heart as my sense of responsibility.
job and I'm going to do it. There's certainly no letup in the work volume around here."
Just three weeks after his loss, he said, he has already
obtained the status of an elder statesman. "They're already getting sentimental
me as this old gentleman." he said of his associates. "I'll become insufferable in another couple of days."
Saying he was a "very strong anti-post mortem guy," the
acting governor refused to discuss his primary loss or the $245,000 he
unsuccessful campaign. "That's a painful experience . . . in that I'm going to be stuck with a loss of funds," he said of the loans.
Lee, 62, said has has not yet made plans for what he will
do after leaving office in January, although he added, "I can't see myself
get itchy after awhile." He said his political career is over but he would have "no objection" to an appointed position.
For the next three months, he said, he will attend to the
state budget and help find state jobs for aides who now work in unclassified
"There's an awful traffic of people wanting me to get jobs for them," Lee added.
Lee's unexpected defeat shocked the upper echelons of state
government and the State House. Cabinet officers and staff aides who serve
the pleasure of the governor suddenly found their jobs in jeopardy.
Demoralized by the primary results, many cabinet members
and Lee staff officers have started scrambling for jobs, while state employes
secure classified positions openly wager in state office building cafeterias whose boss will go first.
"Usually I go to Joe Banks (a clothier) every September
to buy my year's supply of suits," said personnel secretary Henry Boss.
"I haven't gone
this year because I'm waiting to find out my future. If I don't make it, I'm going to buy sports clothes."
Among members of Lee's personal staff, some of whom worked
for him when he was Lieutenant governor, Ed Cole, a special assistant to
was the first to go. He took an appointed job as assistant secretary of Maryland's Racing Commission.
The second floor of governor's offices at the State House,
where aides and political operatives scurried around madly just a few weeks
a tombike presence today.
"Everyday has definitely showed down," one of Lee's secretaries
observed. "Why bother when you don't know if you'll be here in January
follow through. Nobody really cares anymore."
GRAPHIC: Picture, ACTING GOV. BLAIR LEE III . . . "fully recovered" from defeat