When Lyndon B. Johnson won his first Senate race in Texas, courtesy of a post-election corrected count of 87 votes out of nearly 1 million cast, he was dubbed "Landslide Lyndon."
This year's state primary has provided a number of additional candidates to join the "landslide" list. When the count was finished in the city's 43rd District race showing a paper-thin victory by Sen. John Pica over challenger Martin O'Malley, Pica was awarded the "landslide" label. Out in Dundalk, House Majority Leader John Arnick squeezed under the wire by a half-dozen votes. So it will be "Juggernaut John" Arnick from now. Arnick pushed aside Del. Joseph J. "Sonny" Minnick from the elected circle, barring a recount. Minnick may be a loser because some friends let him down, according to one story circulating there. Apparently eight of them were not going to be able to vote in person and took absentee ballots from him. They were supposed to provide bullet votes, single-shot votes, for him. They were careless and forgot the simple chore.
Another election in Dundalk had a pro-Schaefer group handing dTC out sample ballots that promoted single-shot voting for Arnick. The governor had walked the streets of Dundalk with Arnick and didn't want to see him lose. Trouble was that the sample had the wrong instructions, asking voters to pull lever 5-B, the row for Del. Louis DePazzo, the incumbent that the governor wanted defeated.
These tales may be apocryphal. But close races are not. They happen often enough to underline the importance of every vote. And those who stay away have as much effect on elections as those who vote.
Prince George's County had two close Democratic primary races where a few hundred votes made the difference. Sen. Frank Komenda lost to Del. Gloria Lawlah by some 300 votes in a contest where abortion and race were issues. Her pro-choice position is believed to have made the difference.
And Sen. Decatur Trotter held off the comeback effort of former Sen. Tommie Broadwater Jr. by less than 300 votes. Polls had shown Trotter leading Broadwater by 2-to-1. By one account, Broadwater took advantage of Trotter's independent ticket by using a "counterfeit" ticket that listed the "official" county slate. It had Schaefer, County Executive Parris Glendening and Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, followed by Broadwater. Loyal Democrats may have thought they were voting for all the incumbents.
Leftover primary notes: Coincidence? In Baltimore County's 10th District, Democrats were found to be pro-choice on the abortion issue by a 61 to 39 percent margin. The unexpectedly high margin of victory by Janice Piccinini over Sen. Frank Kelly was, yes, you guessed it, 61 to 39 percent.
We hear that Del. Ellen Sauerbrey, the House Minority Leader, is shying away from entering that race against Piccinini in the county GOP's contingency plans that had a proxy take the uncontested nomination. Del. Robert L. Ehrlich is also leaning against stepping in. The media would have a field day battering any Republican in what would seem like "a sour grapes" double-jeopardy sort of contest.
State House watchers have been wondering why there wasn't more joint campaigning by Schaefer and Lt. Gov. Melvin Steinberg. And they didn't see any campaign spots with the two men. It's no secret that the two aren't close buddies. Both apparently dined at different hotels with their own intimate groups on election night. Is there a coolness or chilliness developing?
Maryland wasn't any different. In all 11 states that had primaries this week, not a single incumbent congressman was defeated.
The second floor of the State House housing the governor's top staff members had a new telephone system installed and put into operation yesterday. Result? Crossed wires, voices breaking into conversations, minor chaos. The system, however, wasn't put in by a minor-league outfit, but the big firm.
The defeat of Montgomery County Executive Sidney Kramer doesn't help the city. He was talking about a possible run for governor in 1994 and reaching out to form an alliance with Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke. And Kramer was never parochial but understood city problems.
Maybe that role will be filled by Prince George's County Executive Glendening. He's coming to Baltimore next week to tour some of the city's amenities. And just maybe talk a little long-range politics. Glendening has never hidden his ambition for the Governor's Mansion. His easy victory in a tough county to manage makes him a prime candidate.
Analysts say the three best GOP chances to defeat Democratic Senate candidates ride with Del. Donald F. Munson in the 2nd District, Larry E. Haines in the 5th District and Del. John Leopold in the 31st District.
There were plenty of last-minute dirty tricks before the primary. One batch of mail from New Jersey sent to Jewish and black voters asked why Del. James Campbell didn't do more to stop "skinheads" from marching in Hampden.