Grumbling toward a rumble in '94

THE POLITICAL GAME

June 09, 1993|By C. Fraser Smith | C. Fraser Smith,Staff Writer

Even as they strive to become figures of statewide eminence, those who would run for governor of Maryland in 1994 cannot neglect home base.

Prince George's County Executive Parris N. Glendening may have the biggest and most enduring backyard problem: his long-standing battle with State Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr.

Asked by a reporter recently about the 1994 race for governor, Mr. Miller said:

"We need an honest governor, which rules out Parris."

Rough words, unsupported by the senator.

"He doesn't keep his word," Mr. Miller explained later. "In politics, as in life, you get to know who you can trust very quickly."

Mr. Glendening dismisses the remark as typical Miller rhetoric. The senator can't accept that back-room politics is a thing of the past in Prince George's County, he says.

Mr. Glendening will have plenty of high-level support in the increasingly important Prince George's precincts. But he could do without the Miller opposition -- which will continue.

On July 1, for example, the senator's favorite law goes into effect. Its ostensible objective is to control contributions by developers -- in Prince George's County only -- to County Council members who vote on zoning issues.

The law -- known somewhat derisively in Annapolis as the PG Ethics Bill -- singles out Mr. Glendening. It requires the incumbent executive, but not those who follow him, to disclose any conversations he has had with developers.

The bill is not aimed at anyone, Mr. Miller insists, although his colleagues grumbled that he was willing to hold up the budget and other important legislation to get the "ethics" bill passed.

Senator Miller's ability to collect contributions from developers or any other group of givers is unimpeded by the law.

Mr. Glendening managed to get a similar law struck down last year on technical grounds. This year's law may be vulnerable as well, but Mr. Glendening must decide if he wants to fight again on the eve of an election year against something occasionally referred to as an ethics bill.

Maybe Mr. Glendening shouldn't take it personally. Mr. Miller might not back his friend and former Senate colleague, Lt. Gov. Melvin A. "Mickey" Steinberg, either.

"Mickey's not reaching out to the black community at all," he said. "I could very easily endorse Kurt Schmoke."

Schaefer-Schmoke truce No. 15

Peacemakers of the world should check in with Walter Sondheim, acting head of the Greater Baltimore Committee.

Twice recently, he was seated strategically between Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and Governor Schaefer -- to serve as a barrier to the outbreak of long-standing antagonisms between the two.

The 84-year-old Mr. Sondheim has made a career of performing above the highest expectations. Once again, he outdid himself.

The two officials leaned forward to speak around the serene Walter during the Greater Baltimore Committee's recent annual dinner. Not a harsh word was spoken. And after Mr. Schmoke offered his remarks, the governor said he found the speech refreshing, important -- and better than his own.

Mr. Sondheim said he expects to be called upon again.

"People think I'm too old to be struck by either of them," he says.

GOP's Bentley vs. the field

A poll conducted for the Republican Governor's Association in Washington suggests that Rep. Helen Delich Bentley would be the Maryland GOP's strongest candidate for governor next year. She is by far the leading choice among potential Republican contenders.

And in match-ups with potential Democratic candidates, Mrs. Bentley beats all -- except Mayor Schmoke, who had 41 percent of the respondents to 33 percent for the 2nd District representative. A quarter of the sample was undecided -- as it was in each of these contests.

The association said its poll was conducted by Voter/Consumer Research between May 21 and May 23 among 600 registered Maryland voters.

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