Ah, those ardent Democrats

Newswatch ...on Maryland politics

October 05, 1990|By Peter Kumpa

The final tallies of the 1990 primary, turnout and results, show once again that Democrats are much better voters than Republicans. In fact, there's no contest; Democrats did better by a 2 to 1 margin. Their turnout was 52 percent, compared with just 26 percent for the GOP.

If this was supposed to be a dull, ho-hum Democratic election compared with the excitement of the 1986 primary, the data don't support that wide-held belief. Statewide figures this year show a 4 percent improvement for Democrats over the statewide 1986 primary. Since there were fewer registered Democrats, however, the total was down. In 1986, 679,230 Democrats turned out. This year, the figures were down to 525,516.

When Gov. William Donald Schaefer defeated Attorney General Stephen H. Sachs four years ago, he rolled up an impressive total of 395,170 votes. His total this year in the victory over Frederick M. Griisser was down by nearly 37,000 votes.

The 100,000 votes registered by Griisser, who had little name identification and no significant campaign, has been regarded as a protest vote against the incumbent, a 22 percent protest vote.

Since Schaefer was better than a 3 to 1 winner, the protest was certainly not threating to the governor. But it could be higher in reality. If the total of those voters who refused to choose any Democratic gubernatorial candidate, a none-of-the-above sort of action, were included in the figuring, the protest might be of somewhat larger dimensions.

There were 66,166 Democrats statewide who did vote in the election but skipped both Schaefer and Griisser. That's 12 percent of the total. Four years ago, the comparable figure was 39,266. So the none-of-the-above vote showed a significant increase.

Schaefer won easily in Baltimore County, for example, but clos to 10,000 Democrats skipped the governor's race.

The governor also was not the leading Democratic voter-getter. That honor went to Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein, who led all primary candidates with over 370,000 votes.

Dissatisfaction by GOP voters with their candidates was greater. Only 26 percent, or 159,001, bothered to turn out. And some 20 percent of that total, or 31,970, passed over both William S. Shepard and Ross Z. Pierpont for their gubernatorial choices.

Voters like a wide choice. They showed it in the 1st Congressional District. With Republican candidates, only 1,900 skipped the race. On the Democratic side, over 8,600 didn't bother to choose any of the four candidates.

The worst turnout was on the Republican side, with the Baltimore party turning out only 18 percent. Cecil County Democrats had the best, with 57 percent.


By the way: The 1st District congressional race appears too close to call with five weeks to go. A GOP poll taken Sept. 18 and 19, after the primary, shows Republican challenger Wayne T. Gilchrest leading Democratic incumbent Roy Dyson by 40 percent to 39 percent. That's a tossup, allowing for a margin of error of 5.5 percent in the 300 voters sampled. Gilchrest has been promised more financial help and some big-name help, with Marilyn Quayle and HUD Secretary Jack Kemp among those mentioned. Gilchrest has a White House picture session with President Bush scheduled for Oct. 11.

The decision by Montgomery County Executive Sidney Kramer to take a second crack at Neal Potter in the general election through a write-in campaign has shaken the county's Democratic Party. Potter upset Kramer in the primary and is considered a heavy favorite over Al Ceccone, the GOP nominee. Governor Schaefer, aides say, will have no choice but to back Potter, the party nominee. After Kramer's defeat, the governor praised the county executive for the sporting way he accepted the loss despite a public outburst by Mrs. Kramer critical of the Potter campaign. GOP officials are kicking themselves for not having a stronger candidate in a serious Democratic split.

The endorsement of Del. Donna Felling in Baltimore County's 8th Election District by Choice PAC, one of the state's abortion-rights committees, is clearly an attempt to rescue her from a slate that includes no other pro-choice candidates. While Choice PAC did not endorse any Republicans in the district, Steven Rivelis said it didn't mean they wouldn't in the future. He explained that the committee is looking at the Senate race in the district that pits a GOP challenger, William Rush, against Sen. Thomas L. Bromwell, the Democratic incumbent and one of the leaders of the filibuster that blocked a vote on a pro-choice bill.

Over in the county's 9th District, supporters of that cross-party pro-choice ticket are planning literature, house parties and fund-raising for Sen. Vernon Boozer and Del. John Bishop, the two Republicans, and Democratic delegate candidates Gerry Brewster and Charles Culbertson.

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