Cade's query: Which race to run?

THE POLITICAL GAME

April 14, 1993|By C. Fraser Smith | C. Fraser Smith,Staff Writer

Sen. John A. Cade, the Republican Party's most influential state legislator, has joined the throng of Maryland politicos with

toes poised above the proverbial water.

After 20 years of skewering witnesses who appear before the Budget and Taxation Committee, Mr. Cade says he might run for state comptroller, U.S. Senate or governor.

"I think I have the background for any of those offices," he said last week.

No one in the legislature could imagine a Senate without Jack Cade, the abominable Don't-Ever-Try-to-Snow-Me man. His mission in life has been to know state agency missions and budgets better than the people who put them together and to make that fact obvious in public. Bureaucrats are to Jack Cade what raw meat is to raw meat eaters. He brings the relish.

The 63-year-old Anne Arundel senator is influential because his colleagues respect his intellect and passion. He supports a strong public education system and opposes abortion with equal ferocity.

But people who want to get elected, who must appeal to a wider spectrum of voters, have to be a bit more conciliatory than Mr. Cade has ever deigned to be.

As a Republican with little to win -- he's often outvoted -- he has gotten used to letting fly with whatever cutting remark comes to his inventive mind. He hasn't had to worry about coalitions.

Lack of statewide name recognition and of a practiced statewide organization would be significant handicaps, too. He does not offer -- nor would he want -- the sort of glamorous Robert Redford visage that helps on the electronic stump. If Republicans want talent, he should be able to raise the money.

Would he take on Comptroller-for-life Louis L. Goldstein, who was first elected just after the Louisiana Purchase? Mr. Goldstein is 80, and says he's in for yet another term. It says here that Mr. Cade -- or anyone -- loses to the peripatetic Louie. Mr. Cade competes on merit with anyone if the seat is open.

A U.S. Senate race would match him against three-term incumbent Paul S. Sarbanes, as liberal as Mr. Cade is conservative. He is probably less qualified for and probably less interested in the U.S. Senate -- though, again, some might think he could shake 'em up where they need in Washington.

Just guessing, but what he'd probably most like to be is governor. No one now contemplating that race in either party has his mastery of Maryland's budget process. His art is an arcane one, though, and he would need a little of the old political soft-shoe to go along with the spreadsheets.

His handicapping of his prospects seems accurate:

"And if a Republican is ever going to have a chance for statewide office in this state, I think next year would be it. There is an underlying mood of dissatisfaction and a desire for change that I think, with my record, I could take advantage of.

"At the end of this next term, I will have been in the Senate for 20 years, so if I am ever going to do anything else, I think this would be the time."

Is Cuomo coming? Depends whom you ask

"Why is Governor Mario Cuomo Coming to Beth El April 21?"

The question is asked and answered in a flier distributed by Beth El's Men's Club in Baltimore: "The governor of New York is coming to honor Maryland's Lt. Gov. Melvin A. Mickey Steinberg, Beth El's Man of the Year."

Mr. Cuomo is described as "one of America's great political visionaries."

Mr. Steinberg, a candidate for governor in 1994, is described as a key shaper of public policy in Maryland. It does not say he has been banished into policy-making Siberia by Gov. William Donald Schaefer. But you sort of get the idea from the flier, which lists his duties as chairman of the Executive Helicopter Advisory Committee, the Peabody Oversight Committee and the State House Trust.

So why is Mr. Cuomo coming?

Well, maybe he isn't. Juanita Scarlett, a Cuomo press aide, said she knew of no speaking engagement in Baltimore on April 21.

Mr. Cuomo's scheduling office gave the same answer.

Not even tentatively?

"No," the scheduler said.

Maybe it's too soon. Probably some misunderstanding. And there's time to straighten it all out.

Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. event are $50 and $75. A reception and dessert follow the speaking program, if any.

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