ANNAPOLIS -- Whether billionaire Texan Ross Perot is a candidate for president or not, Marylanders will have a chance to vote for him this fall.
Mr. Perot yesterday assured that his name will appear on Maryland's Nov. 3 ballot by certifying to state elections officials that Adm. James Stockdale of Coronado, Calif., will be his vice presidential running mate.
Independent candidates such as Mr. Perot had until Aug. 25 to designate a running mate or else be dropped from the Maryland ballot. Admiral Stockdale has said he has no interest in serving as vice president, but allowed Mr. Perot to use his name to get on the ballot in various states.
A spokesman at the Perot Petition Committee headquarters in Dallas said yesterday that letters designating Mr. Stockdale as Mr. Perot's running mate were sent to all 50 states.
Since he bowed out of the race earlier this month, Mr. Perot has said he plans to keep his name on the ballot in as many states as possible as "leverage" on the major parties. Even though Mr. Perot's name now is certain to appear on the Maryland ballot, it is unlikely to alter the outcome of the election here unless the race between President Bush and Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton becomes extremely close, most political observers seem to agree.
But views differ over whether the Perot candidacy could hurt the Democrat or the Republican most. "If Perot does not do any more visible campaigning in any way, shape or form, he draws perhaps a few votes away from Bush, but most of those would be throwaways anyway," said Brad Coker, president of Mason-Dixon Political Media Research Inc., a Columbia polling firm.
"Clinton is still a pretty strong favorite in Maryland with or without Perot on the ballot," he said.
Even if Mr. Perot tries to revive his candidacy, Mr. Coker believes, it is too late. "He has destroyed his credibility," Mr. Coker said.
Joyce L. Terhes, chairman of the Maryland Republican Party, acknowledged, "There are a number of people out there that are going to vote for him to send a message." But, she said, "I think that will pull more away from Clinton than from George Bush."
Larry Gibson, the Baltimore lawyer who chairs the Clinton campaign in Maryland, said that having Mr. Perot's name on the Maryland ballot "will not affect one iota how the Clinton campaign will go about this election. . . . We don't see it, at least in Maryland, changing in any respect the game plan."
Gov. William Donald Schaefer wrote Mr. Perot after he withdrew from the race asking him to take his name off the Maryland ballot. Although a Democrat, Mr. Schaefer has been cool toward the Clinton campaign and friendly toward President Bush. His letter was seen by some as an attempt to protect the president from defections to the Perot camp.
But Pamela J. Kelly, an executive assistant to the governor, said Mr. Schaefer was concerned that a three-way race could throw the election into the U.S. House of Representatives, she said.
"And he thinks the citizens will become outraged that they don't elect a president," she said. "That is his worst concern with this issue."
Joan Vinson-Stallings, the Anne Arundel County woman who headed the volunteer Perot campaign in Maryland, was in Dallas yesterday at a meeting of Mr. Perot's 50 state coordinators, each hoping to find out what the onetime would-be candidate will do next.