It's hard to tell Democrats from Republicans sometimes. That's hardly surprising when the governor, William Donald Schaefer, is a Democrat but sometimes sounds so much like a Republican, and Republican opponent William S. Shepard inevitably sounds more like a Democrat.
What you end up with is the Establishment, and the incumben the Establishment usually favors, versus the anti-Establishment and the candidate running against the incumbent.
Which brings us to some endorsements that would otherwis seem unusual. Governor Schaefer's camp will hold a news conference Oct. 24 to announce that Pam Shriver, the well-known tennis champion (a Republican) will endorse Mr. Schaefer, along with two other Republicans: Theodore R. McKeldin Jr. and his wife, Courtenay. Mr. McKeldin is the son of Theodore Roosevelt McKeldin, the late Republican governor of Maryland and mayor of Baltimore who was always elected thanks to hundreds of thousands of Democrats.
And Mr. Shepard, the Republican candidate for governor, ha been endorsed by that anti-establishment Democrat Fred Griisser, the gun lobby advocate who took about 100,000 votes from Mr. Schaefer in the September primary.
Mr. Shepard has accumulated meanwhile one of the greates varieties of professional, special interest and ethnic "for me" groups ever listed.
According to a release faxed to newspapers Friday, they include Asian Americans for Shepard; Black Americans for Shepard; Dentists for Shepard; Doctors for Shepard; Family Issues Coalition for Shepard; Hispanic Americans for Shepard; Hungarian Americans for Shepard; Latvian Americans for Shepard; Law Enforcement for Shepard; Lawyers for Shepard; Realtors for Shepard; Teachers for Shepard and Senior Citizens for Shepard.
That's 13 groups. Hard to say how many votes they actuall represent for Mr. Shepard. Governor Schaefer's supporters most certainly include blacks, dentists, doctors, lawyers, law enforcement officers, senior citizens, teachers and Realtors.
President Bush's address to the nation Tuesday night certainl seemed to strike a chord in the 4th Congressional District.
Hours before Mr. Bush took to the tube to push the budget resolution, Republican candidate Robert P. Duckworth issued a blistering press release emphasizing his "extreme disappointment and disgust" with the proposal.
"This gross irresponsibility hurts our senior citizens . . . regressively hits our farmers, veterans, college students and the economically disadvantaged," the 50-year-old Crofton resident and former HUD employee opined. "Congress is out of touch, out of tune and out of step with the American people."
About 12 hours after the president's speech, fax machine bells were ringing again.
"Bob Duckworth . . . reluctantly announced his support for the President's budget compromise at a meeting today in Severna Park," the new and improved release pointed out.
The district's incumbent Democrat, Tom McMillen, was undecided on the budget package Wednesday morning, and on Friday he cast his vote in favor of the proposal.
Controversy over lawn signs has become a staple of election-year politics, and this year's race for Baltimore County executive is no exception.
Campaign workers for Roger Hayden, who is running against Dennis F. Rasmussen for county executive, were warned Monday by the assistant chief of the county bureau of highways that two Hayden campaign signs along Merrymans Mill Road were in the right-of-way and had to be moved back from the highway.
But Richard Reinhardt, the campaign's attorney, said the order lacked specifics about the location of the signs and failed to identify who had complained.
Albert Bethke, the assistant highways chief who issued the warning, said he specified that the signs were along Merrymans Mill, just west of Jarrettsville Pike, near a fuel oil shop. Such directions would suffice for most campaigns, Mr. Bethke said.
Mr. Bethke said lawn sign complaints are so common during the political season that the names of those who complain are often not reported. "Usually, we just ask the campaign workers to move back the signs, and they move them back," he said.
The notice gave the Hayden campaign 24 hours to remove the 24-inch by 18-inch lawn signs. But Hayden volunteers said they remained unsure which signs were the offenders -- until Tuesday at noon, when they were quickly removed.
The incident prompted Mr. Hayden's supporters to comment about the swiftness of justice -- and Mr. Rasmussen's supporters to question why their opponents didn't just locate the signs and move them back.