To Republican challenger Lois Shepard, Lt. Gov. Melvin A. Steinberg is part of an irresponsible administration that is spending the state into bankruptcy.
To incumbent Steinberg, Shepard is a lovely lady who doesn't know what she is talking about.
Shepard is a novice in Maryland politics. She joined a ticket headed by her husband, William S. Shepard, after better-known Republicans refused.
But Shepard jumped on Steinberg like an old pro during their two-hour debate on WCBM-AM yesterday, accusing him and Gov. William Donald Schaefer of misspending the state's money.
Since Schaefer has refused to appear with William Shepard, saying he won't debate his extensive record against someone without one, the debate between the second-bananas will have to satisfy political junkies for this campaign.
During the radio debate, neither candidate made any surprising statements or charges.
Shepard again called the Camden Yards baseball stadium unnecessary and criticized Schaefer for his economic development trips overseas, all of which, she said, has fueled the state's potential $270 million deficit this year.
In a shot at Schaefer's reluctance to move to Annapolis, Shepard said her team, if it wins next month, would move into the governor's mansion and install a playpen for their grandchildren.
Shepard, who had a thick stack of notes in front of her, tripped up a few times, suggesting that Schaefer had failed to balance the state budget. The Maryland constitution mandates a balanced budget. Another time, she said that instant lotteries will not pay the full cost of the stadium project, a statement at odds with projections made by the state and outside consultants.
Steinberg, a veteran of state government, corrected Shepard several times, sounding more like a kindly professor than a partisan politician.
"I have to correct Mrs. Shepard. I think inadvertently she misstated some facts," Steinberg said.
Later, he added, "Please, Mrs. Shepard, let's adhere to our constitution."
Four years ago, in the only debate of the gubernatorial campaign, an angry Schaefer left early during a radio appearance with former Maryland Attorney General Stephen H. Sachs.
Yesterday's debate ended more cordially with Steinberg and Shepard debating -- away from the microphones -- the respective merits of their grandchildren.