Several ranking Democrats, with the tacit approval of Gov. William Donald Schaefer, have launched an effort to remove Maryland Democratic Party Chairman Nathan Landow.
Criticism of Landow reached a crescendo last week after a bruising fight over congressional redistricting, when several party officials gave him a four-page letter that blasted what they said was a domineering and cavalier leadership style.
"We have tried from the earliest days of your tenure to help you," the letter reads. "We have pleaded with you at times to allow us to help you. But to no avail."
The letter was signed by Maryland's five Democratic National Committee members -- state Sens. Clarence W. Blount, D-City, and Juanita Miller, D-Prince George's; Baltimore Councilwoman Vera P. Hall; and party activists Lanny Davis and Mary Jo Neville.
Schaefer, who is head of the party and the man who picked Landow for the job, has not joined in the public criticism. But an aide said the governor has decided not to intervene on Landow's behalf. That amounts to silent approval of the move to dump him, the aide said.
Asked if Schaefer plans to step into the fray, the aide replied: "Probably not."
Critics complained in their letter of an "ongoing lack of consultation before major decisions are made for the party, including the taking of public positions not authorized by the party."
The party officials said they were upset that Landow had testified in Annapolis against a congressional redistricting plan that was favored by most of the state's congressional Democrats, and Schaefer.
Critics also complained that Landow did not consult with the party's executive committee before making "unilateral" decisions about financial contributions to candidates.
A final showdown may develop at the party's central committee meeting Nov. 20.
Landow, a wealthy Bethesda developer, acknowledged he may have not been diplomatic enough during his two-year tenure.
"In some cases, we might have overlooked communication," Landow said, "but certainly not intentionally."
He said he would try to make peace with his critics and vowed to fight to keep his post.
"His management style is not my management style, but he has done some magnificent things for the party," said one Landow advocate. "It was defunct."
Landow said that what he may have lacked in communicating with other party members, he has made up for by improving party fund-raising and programs, such as voter registration and candidate training.
William Thompson contributed to this story. .