Schaefer vs. Landow

November 10, 1991

The executive committee of the Maryland Democratic Party has voted 23-12 to retain Nathan Landow as state party chairman, despite the expressed desire of Gov. William Donald Schaefer that he resign or be removed. This is bizarre. It is as if President Bush asked the Republican national chairman to go, and the Republican National Committee voted to keep him.

Mr. Landow implies that the problem is that he is a better Democrat than the governor. The chairman wanted congressional lines redrawn in a partisan way. The governor thought it was in the best interest of the Port of Baltimore, and thus the state, if Republican Helen Delich Bentley was protected. Given their respective responsibilities, the governor and chairman were both right on that.

This is just the half of it, however. The other half is that Mr. Landow, for personal or partisan reasons, has often shown more concern for the Democrats' fate nationally than parochially. He has pushed -- in the state and in the Democratic National Committee -- to make the party more responsive to moderate white suburban voters than it traditionally has been.

Liberal policies are the cause of the party's problems in presidential elections and need to be tinkered with. But in Maryland, how can you argue with a liberal-oriented party that has a lock on the governorship, the General Assembly, both U.S. Senate seats and a majority of the eight U.S. House seats? In the last 20 years, Republicans have won only one statewide office (the Senate seat held till 1987 by Charles Mathias, who was practically a liberal Democrat, himself). If it ain't broke. . .

There are ways to make the governor's agenda and the !c chairman's agenda mesh. The two men ought to sit down and reach an accommodation before the state central committee meets later this month. This situation cannot continue without hurting the party on the state and national levels.

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