WASHINGTON – He didn’t mention Virginia governor and sometime-foe James Gilmore by name, but a chipper Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening clearly had Gilmore in mind Wednesday as he congratulated Virginia Gov.-elect Mark Warner on his victory.
“Neighbors ought to be friendly and, as many of you know, that’s not always the case,” Glendening said at a Democratic National Committee event to honor the party’s Tuesday election winners.
Glendening, the incoming president of the Democratic Governors’ Association, vowed to work with fellow Democrat Warner on interstate issues that have led to bickering with Gilmore, including the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and controlling sprawl.
He said he and Warner have known each other for about seven years, that they feel comfortable working together and that there will be “a new cooperative effort that we believe will exist between Virginia and Maryland.”
A spokesman for Gilmore, a Republican, was surprised at the tenor of Glendening’s remarks Wednesday.
“Gov. Gilmore doesn’t believe that they have a particularly strained relationship,” said Reed Boatright, the spokesman.
He said the biggest problem between the states was the dispute over Maryland’s insistence that project labor agreements, which require union-only labor, be used in the construction of a new Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge linking the two states over the Potomac River.
“The Wilson Bridge has been the biggest mutual item, and they have come to agreement on that,” Boatright said. “We’re now moving full speed ahead with the project.”
But the states have not always seen eye-to-eye during the tenures of the two incumbent governors. At one point, Virginia sued Maryland for the right to build a water intake pipe in the Potomac River, and Gilmore — now the chairman of the Republican National Committee — campaigned in Maryland for Glendening’s last GOP challenger.
But the governors still “managed to address areas of mutual concern just fine,” Boatright said.
Warner could not be reached Wednesday to comment on Glendening’s remarks, but his campaign web site refers to the need for a new Wilson Bridge and says the region “will never get it without a leader who can cooperate with our partners.”
“For too long, Virginia has had an unnecessarily adversarial relationship with our neighbors in Maryland and the District of Columbia,” Warner’s web site says.
Warner has also promised to work to contain urban sprawl, one of Glendening’s top priorities, and preserve the health of the Chesapeake Bay.
Glendening said he was with Warner just before the governor-elect made his victory speech Tuesday. The two new colleagues “talked about the need to work together to expand mass transit in Washington, D.C., and Northern Virginia; we talked about protecting the Chesapeake Bay; and how we would work together to strengthen the economy,” Glendening said.
“Right away, he wanted to talk about how he would help resolve these issues,” Glendening said.
But that will just be talk until January, when Warner is sworn in. Glendening will have to deal with Gov. Gilmore until then.