Gov. William Donald Schaefer led a whistle-stop Democratic unity tour through North County yesterday, hoping to keep his party's nominees on a winning track. But while the event helped build steam for Sen. Philip C.
Jimeno, the governor paid little attention in his remarks to Theodore J.
Sophocleus' campaign for county executive.
Schaefer, who openly disdains Jimeno's opponent, Delegate John Leopold, R-Pasadena, drew a sharp contrast between the two men, concentrating on their ability to work with the governor. Leopold, he said, operates by "innuendo and nasty talk," while he said Jimeno, a Brooklyn Park Democrat, serves his constituents through quiet persuasion.
"Just common sense tells you if you work together, you accomplish much," Schaefer told about 200 people gathered at the Linthicum depot of the Baltimore & Annapolis Railroad. "If you don't work together, things fall apart."
Schaefer did not offer Sophocleus the same public praise, but gave the executive candidate his full support when questioned during an interview.
The train tour was built around Democratic efforts to shore up Jimeno and Sophocleus in his race against Republican Robert Neall. The day's events were scheduled to culminate last night with the governor's appearance at the senator's fund-raiser.
Schaefer was accompanied by the rest of his statewide ticket, including Lt. Gov. Melvin Steinberg, Attorney General Joseph Curran and Comptroller Louis Goldstein.
"I'm worried about Phil," Schaefer said during an interview. He explained that he was concerned that Jimeno's record would be obscured by Leopold's aggressive style of perpetual campaigning.
Jimeno, a former District 31 delegate, is facing his first senate race after winning appointment to the vacant seat in 1985 and running unopposed the following year. Before his fund-raiser last night, he had reported raising less than $41,000.
Leopold, who was elected to the State House within a year of moving here after a career as a Hawaii state legislator, had raised more than $163,000 on the strength of an unofficial three-year county executive campaign that he abandoned in June.
Schaefer said the voters should listen to Jimeno when he tells them, "I don't want to go to another state. I don't want to run for two or three jobs. I just want to be a state senator."
But he was noticeably less elaborate in his pitch for Sophocleus in his battle with Neall. Schaefer appointed Neall the state's first drug policy coordinator, a move that many have interpreted as an effort to help promote a Republican alternative to Leopold as county executive.
In his public remarks, the governor included Sophocleus among his Democratic "compadres" who would help move the party's agenda forward during a second Schaefer administration, should he win re-election. But he made no comparisons between Sophocleus and Neall and offered no detailed reasons for backing Sophocleus, whose County Council district the governor toured.
"That was an oversight," Schaefer said when asked about the vagueness of his support for Sophocleus. "I was talking too long."
He made a promise to himself to praise Sophocleus more strongly at Jimeno's fund-raiser last night and went on to cast the executive candidate in his own populist mold forged while mayor of Baltimore.
Schaefer said he learned to appreciate Sophocleus by watching his cable television advertisements.
"They were not glitzy," he said. "They were very simple ads but had a whole lot of seniors and other people who said, 'We are for Ted.' You could look at their faces and see they were sincere. Ted has been with the people for a very long time, very personal contact, like I had as mayor."
Although he played the role of loyal Democrat yesterday, Schaefer said he would make no partisan attacks on Neall, former House of Delegates minority leader.
"I like Bobby. I can't be critical of Bobby," he said. "But I think Ted has been closer to the people over time and has a better feel for Anne Arundel County."
Sophocleus said he was not disturbed by Schaefer's "oversight," saying it is natural for the governor to be more concerned with who he will have to work with in the senate than with the executive race. But he said Schaefer has planned a second campaign tour in the county Oct. 24, pegged to Sophocleus' own fund-raiser.
Like other Democrats yesterday, Sophocleus said Schaefer's visits to the county demonstrate the party's health here -- due, in no small part, to the former's strong victory over three primary contenders.
"I don't know that it galvanized the support of the governor," he said, "but it certainly showed that it's a viable ticket."