Reading the returns

March 04, 1992

By holding its primary a week before Super Tuesday, Maryland hoped to get more attention from presidential candidates. It worked, with four of the five main Democratic candidates stumping the state in the past two weeks. Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton had an extensive line-up of official endorsements and made several appearances here, but it brought him only a second-place finish behind former Massachusetts Sen. Paul Tsongas. For Mr. Tsongas, the victor in New Hampshire, Maryland provided valuable proof that he can win a state outside his native New England. In the Republican presidential primary, challenger Patrick Buchanan wisely conceded the state to President Bush, who walked away with a solid victory.

Even so, the results in Maryland and elsewhere yesterday don't provide many conclusive answers. Mr. Buchanan seems to have gotten enough support in Georgia to keep him on the campaign trail, badgering the president on behalf of disgruntled right-wing Republicans. Meanwhile, the Democratic field appears to be narrowing to Mr. Tsongas and Mr. Clinton, although former California Gov. Jerry Brown won enough support in the West to keep him in the picture. Senators Bob Kerrey and Tom Harkin finished so poorly they may be out of the race. But there is still enough uncertainty in the campaign that the party's hopes of uniting early behind a candidate seem as far away as ever.

In Maryland's other races, Sen. Barbara Mikulski faced only token opposition and was overwhelmingly renominated. Republicans chose Alan Keyes, candidate who earned his party's respect for his unsuccessful but gutsy campaign against Sen. Paul Sarbanes in 1988. This should set up a lively race for November, when the senatorial candidates will also reflect the opposing sides in the state's abortion referendum. Senator Mikulski supports abortion rights, while Mr. Keyes opposes legalized abortion under most circumstances.

Most of Maryland's House delegation easily won renomination. The exception was seven-term Rep. Beverly Byron in Western Maryland's 6th District. In the night's biggest upset, state Del. Tom Hattery of Mt. Airy capitalized on simmering frustrations with the economy, voter discontent with incumbents and a desire for a change after being represented by four members of the Byron family over the last half-century and decisively defeated Mrs. Byron for the Democratic nomination. He will face Republican Roscoe Bartlett in November.

The newly drawn, majority black 4th District saw a lively race, with Montgomery County businesswoman Michele Dyson winning the Republican primary and state Sen. Sen. Albert Wynn leading a crowded field of Democrats.

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