Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend was the Democrats' second choice in a national poll assessing voter support for women who could become vice presidential candidates.
At 23 percent, Mrs. Townsend ranked just 1 percentage point behind U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, who topped the Democratic voters' list in the telephone survey conducted by Lake Snell Perry & Associates for Parade magazine.
The magazine's list of potential women running mates was selected for "leadership qualities" as well as racial and regional diversity, Parade stated in Sunday's edition.
Respondents were asked to chose two women from a list of prominent members of their party.
But Mrs. Townsend's chief of staff, Alan Fleischmann, said the lieutenant governor's focus remains on Maryland.
Although "it's flattering whenever something positive is written," he added.
Mrs. Townsend is expected to run for governor in 2002 and is widely seen, this early on, as the odds-on favorite.
Elizabeth Dole, with 58 percent support among Republicans, was the undisputed GOP favorite. New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman was second at 18 percent.
But in an unscientific, nonpartisan straw poll of Parade readers who voted by mail or over the Internet, Mrs. Dole, Mrs. Feinstein, Lt. Gen. Claudia Kennedy (the U.S. Army's highest-ranking woman) and Mrs. Whitman were the top vote getters.
KUDOS AND OUCH
This year's announcement of the 32nd Annual Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards must be bittersweet for the late senator's family, and particularly for his eldest child, Mrs. Townsend.
Among 11 print and broadcast journalists selected by their peers for reporting on problems of the disadvantaged was Baltimore Sun reporter Todd Richissin for his report on abuses of juvenile offenders remanded to Maryland's state-run boot camps.
Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening has long given Mrs. Townsend oversight for criminal justice issues in the administration - including the boot camps.
Mr. Richissin followed 14 juvenile offenders for a year through Maryland's boot camps for juvenile delinquents. He reported tactical officers engaging in patterns of grievous verbal and physical abuse of young men sent to the boot camps for punishment and rehabilitation.
The four-part report - criticized by some because it was not published until almost a year after the abuse was first discovered - forced state officials, including Mrs. Townsend, to accept responsibility for the juveniles' mistreatment and to revamp the program.
Mrs. Townsend's mother, Ethel Kennedy, and sister Rory Kennedy will present the awards next week in Arlington
And although Mrs. Townsend does not plan to attend the ceremony, her chief of staff, Mr. Fleischmann, said she applauds the Sun series.
"She has said over and over again that she is proud of the work of the Baltimore Sun in bringing an important situation in the boot camps to light," Mr. Fleischmann said.
Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III plans to meet May 10 with state NAACP leaders who have complained about racially sensitive matters, including the governor's proclaiming April as Confederate Heritage Month.
The proclamation noted the sacrifices of Confederate soldiers in the Civil War, but also condemned slavery as degrading to the human spirit. …