Schaefer roundly defeats Shepard to win 2nd term

November 07, 1990|By C. Fraser Smith Eileen Canzian, Graeme Browning, John W. Frece and Ann LoLordo of The Sun's metropolitan staff contributed to this article.

Gov. William Donald Schaefer won a second term yesterday, holding back a strong tide of anti-incumbent fever -- but his Republican challenger, William S. Shepard, appeared to have won more than half the state's subdivisions.

In an election where outcomes were influenced by voter anger over higher taxes, government spending and a range of other issues, Mr. Schaefer won by better than 3-to-2 -- a result which he said most other governors would envy.

"I'm pleased with our decisive victory," he told reveling supporters at the Omni Hotel in Baltimore. O. James Lighthizer, the Anne Arundel County executive, said Mr. Schaefer's victory was "smashing in this environment."

Mr. Shepard, in a concession speech, said, "We're very proud of the effort everyone in the campaign put in. We fought tremendous odds of money, but we weren't lacking in heart, spirit and those things that make Maryland tick."

With an advantage of 20-to-1 in campaign funds, Mr. Schaefer managed to dodge the brunt of the voters' anger -- a mood summed up in the words of Doris Fobare of Severna Park, who emerged from the voting booth and said, "I'm not that thrilled with anybody who's running."

When her 4-year-old granddaughter asked her what voting was, she said, "In this day and time, you vote one set of crummies out and vote another set in."

Similar sentiments -- and a number of closely fought local races and spending issues -- drew Marylanders to the polls yesterday in larger numbers than state officials had anticipated.

In the congressional elections, five-term incumbent Representative Roy P. Dyson, D-Md.-1st, was defeated by Wayne T. Gilchrest, the Republican making his second try to oust Mr. Dyson.

The other seven congressional representatives were easy winners.

Democratic Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. and Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein also won handily. Mr. Curran defeated Republican Edward L. Blanton Jr.

Comptroller Goldstein, seeking election to a ninth term as the state's chief tax collector, overwhelmed Larry M. Epstein, the Republican newcomer who waged an energetic campaign against the man who has become a Maryland political legend.

As early returns began to verify polls that showed the race tightening, Mr. Schaefer's campaign had begun to argue that their man was running about as his predecessors had when they sought re-election: In 1974, Marvin Mandel polled 63.4 percent; in 1982, Harry R. Hughes took 62 percent.

The 1990 campaign for governor began in January when Mr. Shepard, a 55-year-old retired foreign service officer, declared he would enter the race against Mr. Schaefer. Though he had virtually no money and no experience in local government, he put on an energetic campaign -- hammering at issues such as government spending.

In Northwest Baltimore yesterday, voter Alex Giles expressed a view of the Democratic incumbent that Mr. Shepard might have written.

"He's dictatorial. He's egotistical. He's vindictive. He doesn't take into consideration that we as citizens have to have input into the political process. If people gave him a landslide, he'd be too hard to handle. It's not that we want Shepard. We want to show him [the governor] noteveryone is pleased with what he did."

Mr. Schaefer, more confident months ago, focused in the primary on campaigning for supportive members of the General Assembly who appeared to be in some danger.

Later, after 100,000 people voted for his primary opponent, Mr. Schaefer feverishly redoubled his efforts. Friends and aides said he moved through the final weeks of the campaign in a mood of high anxiety. Overall, he raised about $2.3 million -- far beyond the $106,000 raised by Mr. Shepard at last count.

The campaign included no debates because Mr. Schaefer refused to meet his opponent. Mr. Shepard complained that the governor was refusing to say what he planned for the next four years. And he charged that Mr. Schaefer was concealing the results of a tax study that could cost Marylanders in the 1990s.

Mr. Schaefer said he would not rule out a gasoline tax increase for next year, but said he would try not to raise other taxes to balance the state's budget -- now facing deficits estimated as high as $300 million. Mr. Shepard said he did not think more taxes would be needed and promised not to increase them without clear proof of need.

The voters' stake in the race for governor was more substantial than usual this year.

In the short run, the new governor apparently will run the state in a time of economic difficulty, when cost-cutting choices will be required. He also will preside over the redrawing of the state's political districts. A technical chore done with computers, the 1990 Census population figures and maps, on the one hand, it becomes, on the other, an intensely political task since where the lines are drawn can favor one or the other party as well as individuals.

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