Dauntless Schaefer pledges he won't retreat

November 08, 1990|By John W. Frece | John W. Frece,Annapolis Bureau of The Sun

ANNAPOLIS -- Seeming undaunted by the anti-incumbent cross-fire that felled so many of his partisans Tuesday, Gov. William Donald Schaefer pledged yesterday that the next four years will be just like the last four, except even more so.

In a post-election news conference outside the State House office he has occupied since 1987, the 69-year-old chief executive seemed almost defiant, undeterred by voter anger or recent financial constraints, determined to resist retreat from new programs, new spending or possibly even new taxes.

The governor said he hoped to put more money into community colleges and to initiate a worker-training program geared to the needs of a global economy. But he otherwise offered few details of what he has in store for the next four years, other than to hint at changes in his Cabinet or policies.

He is expected to spend the rest of this week at his vacation retreat in Ocean City, where aides say he is sure to mull over the meaning of the election returns, the lessons of the campaign, the successes and failures of his first term and the plans for his second.

"The next few days may be the most important of the next four years," said Mark L. Wasserman, the governor's executive chief for administration.

Trying to be upbeat yet sounding grim, the governor described his 60 percent-to-40 percent victory over little-known Republican opponent William S. Shepard as "amazing" and "decisive." He said he doubted that the margin of victory was matched by incumbents anywhere else in the nation Tuesday.

If he had troubles in the election, he suggested the fault lay elsewhere.

Explaining why a dozen of Maryland's 24 subdivisions went for Mr. Shepard, the governor claimed that it was not that his administration had failed to do great things -- but that it had failed to get its message across.

He said his own campaign hierarchy had let him down, primarily by squandering some of the $2.3 million he raised by waging a Democratic primary campaign that focused almost exclusively on volunteer activities and rarely on the candidate himself.

"The 'Campaign for Maryland' had a theoretical greatness," he said, "[but] I think some of the . . . staff were idealistic. They didn't understand the realities of politics. . . . I think they just miscalculated."

Explaining away losses principally in the state's most rural counties, the governor blamed the Department of Transportation for building roads in places where he said local residents apparently did not want them. And he blamed other state agencies for failing to tailor their approaches to problems to each specific region of the state.

He also blamed The Sun and The Evening Sun for influencing voters by being overly critical of everything he has done. He cited his lopsided victories in Montgomery and Prince George's counties as evidence that the Washington Post had treated him more fairly.

Finally, he blamed voters themselves for forgetting much of what his administration has accomplished on their behalf. While campaigning, he said, he was forced to remind voters of the many bridges, roads, health centers and other projects and programs he had delivered.

The General Assembly did not emerge from the election quite as unbruised as the governor. House Speaker R. Clayton Mitchell Jr., D-Kent, said the legislature surely felt the sting of the voters' wrath.

"Obviously, the people definitely wanted a change," said Mr. Mitchell, who, come January, will see new faces occupying more thana quarter of the House of Delegates' 141 seats.

The changes will increase the number of House Republicans from 16 to 25 as well as boost the number of women and blacks.

Despite the turnover, Mr. Mitchell must fill only two vacancies in the top echelon of House leadership -- the positions of Judiciary Committee chairman and speaker pro tem. He left open the possibility, however, of a much broader reshuffling.

"I'm looking at all of them," he said. "I haven't promised anything to anybody at this time."

hTC In the Senate, where 10 of 47 members will be newcomers, President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., D-Prince George's, said two Baltimore senators and one from Harford County will be given new leadership roles.

Sen. Barbara A. Hoffman, D-Baltimore, will replace defeated Sen. Francis X. Kelly, D-Baltimore County, as vice chairman of the influential Budget and Taxation Committee, and she and Sen. William H. Amoss, D-Harford, will chair the panel's two budget subcommittees.

Sen. John A. Pica Jr., D-Baltimore, will become co-chairman of a new joint legislative panel on redistricting and reapportionment. That appointment is considered important in Baltimore's effort to retain as much representation in Annapolis and Washington as possible during the next decade despite a substantial drop in population in the latest census.

Mr. Miller said he has not yet decided who will replace Catherine I. Riley, D-Harford, the Finance Committee chairman who retired from the legislature.

However, State House sources indicated that Sen. Thomas P. O'Reilly, D-Prince George's, is the front-runner. Senator O'Reilly is the committee's vice chairman and a longtime Miller loyalist.

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