GOP's Turner trying to shed party label

September 26, 1990|By Arch Parsons | Arch Parsons,Washington Bureau of The Sun

WASHINGTON -- Campaign strategists for Maurice T. Turner nTC Jr., the Republican candidate for mayor, figure that Mr. Turner's best -- and probably only -- chance to win is to be as non-Republican as possible.

Mr. Turner, Washington's former police chief, is seeking the mayoralty as a Republican in a city where registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans 9 to 1. His opponent is Sharon Pratt Dixon, a longtime Democratic Party activist.

James King, Mr. Turner's campaign manager, was quoted last week as saying, "I could never sell Maurice Turner, the Republican. I'm selling Maurice Turner, hometown boy."

Mr. Turner has been emphasizing in campaign speeches that he is a third-generation Washingtonian who spent 32 years on the city's police force -- "walking the beat," as he puts it -- before his retirement last year.

President Bush, titular head of the national Republican Party, appeared to adhere to the Turner strategy when he spoke Monday at a fund-raising breakfast that reportedly raised $250,000 for Mr. Turner's campaign.

Mr. Bush praised Mr. Turner as a "good, decent, honorable man." He never once mentioned Mr. Turner's Republican affiliation.

But observers of Mr. Bush's recent appearances around the country on behalf of Republican candidates seeking election this fall say it's the president's style to emphasize a candidate's personal qualifications and to avoid discussing local issues on a partisan basis.

In an apparent allusion to the recent trial of Mayor Marion S. Barry Jr. and his conviction on a drug-possession charge, Mr. Bush spoke merely of a "crisis of confidence that grips the District Building" -- Washington's city hall.

"That's why it is time . . . to put Chief Turner in charge of the entire city," Mr. Bush said.

Lon Walls, chief spokesman for the Turner campaign, said his candidate's "personal appeal" would "overcome his Republican label."

Mr. Walls was asked whether the strategy of presenting Mr. Turner as a non-Republican conflicted with the Republican Party's oft-stated desire to bring more blacks into the party.

"We're not trying to recruit," he replied. "We're trying to win an election."

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.