For Pierpont and Griisser camps, cold cuts amid the chill of defeat PERSONALITIES

September 12, 1990|By Carl Schoettler | Carl Schoettler,Evening Sun Staff

1/8 TC Lloyd Reynolds, the Reisterstown farmer running on the Republican ticket with Ross Z. Pierpont, tossed out his snippet of political wisdom about midnight: "You only have to win by 51 percent."

Unfortunately for these Republican outsiders, the numbers kept coming up three points short of 51 percent.

Helen Bentley, the GOP congresswoman who had urged Pierpont to make his 11th try for electoral office, called a couple minutes after midnight to report that the Associated Press had declared him a loser, 48 percent to 52 for the Republican husband and wife team, Bill and Lois Shephard.

Pierpont, a practiced loser, took the report stolidly. He was feeling a couple thousand votes might appear somewhere in Baltimore County or maybe in the city.

"I think the thing to do is sit tight," he said. "We're just going to see what happens."

He was doing his sitting in a nice comfortable chair in a suite of offices and showrooms above a kitchen design center in Rosedale, a building owned by Ray Krul, a nice, round-faced guy who ran with him in 1978.

At the opposite end of the Harbor Tunnel in the Timbuktu Restaurant on Dorsey Road in Anne Arundel County, Fred Griisser, the outsider in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, was saying he was going to win with 51 percent of the vote.

But that was before anybody counted any votes. When they did, Griisser, a pleasant guy with a beard who sells real estate and likes guns, ended up with 23 percent.

That was a couple points below Gov. William Donald Schaefer's disapproval rating. But not bad for a guy who said if he spent all his campaign funds on a car he could have bought a Ford Taurus -- without air-conditioning.

"We gave it the best effort we could with the resources we had," Griisser said. "We tried to get the people of Maryland to vote for us, a pair of guys not politically committed, with no favors to pay back.

"We're just two normal guys who wanted to change the system and got out to do it. We'll never regret doing it."

Griisser had come back for his second dip in electoral politics after leading the campaign against Maryland's gun law to a loss in a referendum two years ago.

"I think we did a helluva job with the limited budget we had," said Sandy Abrams, Griisser's running mate. "We went all over the state to talk to anybody who wanted to talk to us. We told people exactly where we stand on every issue. We just didn't have the $2 million budget Schaefer has."

Abrams figured that they'd embarrass the man Griisser calls "King Schaefer" if they got 80 or 90 thousand votes. They got nearly 100 thousand.

Neither candidate had what you'd call a gala celebration. Griisser pulled maybe 25 people to the Timbuktu, including his wife, Julie, his campaign manager, a few friends and a reporter.

Pierpont, who's been been at this loser's game a lot longer than Griisser, assembled about 30 people in the funny, faux-wood-paneled hall over kitchen center. They included his wife, Grace, his campaign manager, several friends, the same reporter, but also a photographer.

Griisser's supporters seemed to be a couple generations younger than Pierpont's but no more well preserved. Both campaigns served cold cuts and cheese. The shrimp at Griisser's were steamed and spicy, at Pierpont's, breaded and fried. And for one observer that seemed to be the main difference between the Democrat and the Republican losers this year.

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