Schmoke, Bentley are ready whether we are or not

MICHAEL OLESKER

July 06, 1993|By MICHAEL OLESKER

This is to announce, with great fanfare even though it is still too early for people with actual lives to care about, that I bring you the following two stories this morning on very good authority:

1. About 11 o'clock one recent night, Rep. Helen Bentley calls a friend of hers and asks, "What do you think about a campaign that says, 'Who would you rather have for governor: a tough-talking, street-wise congresswoman, or a smooth-talking Rhodes Scholar?'"

"You're not going to run for governor, are you?" asks the friend.

"The hell I'm not," says Bentley.

2. On the subject of Kurt L. Schmoke, former Rhodes Scholar and current mayor of Baltimore, Bentley has been telling supporters that her campaign slogan could be: "Elect Schmoke: He'll Do for the State of Maryland What He Did for the City of Baltimore."

This is said, naturally, in sneering tones, as voters across the state distance themselves psychologically from the City of Baltimore and its well-documented troubles.

Also, it presumes that Schmoke will be running for governor, and why not? After seven years as a big-city mayor, anyone with a normal life should be sick of such a job, and Paul Sarbanes shows no inclination to retire and bequeath his U.S. senate seat to Schmoke or anyone else.

Thus, about 16 months before our next general election for governor, and maybe 15 months before anyone should care, we have all sorts of persons racing about the state of Maryland with plans to become our next great leader.

Are you still with me? Because, if not, I'll change the subject right now and talk about something stupider, such as the NAACP's endorsement of the City of Charlotte's bid for a professional football team.

They do this, as everyone now knows, because of such great moral conviction. They go, in a heartbeat, from calling certain Charlotte people a bunch of racists, to embracing them on the basis of a single criteria of jobs being promised due to race.

And they do it without even glancing at Baltimore's record of employment in professional sports matters, which includes racial considerations far superior to Charlotte's, and despite the million dollars this community handed the NAACP to build its national headquarters here, and with Benjamin Chavis of the NAACP thinking everyone will be too dumb to notice that he endorses Charlotte from his home, which is in North Carolina.

But this is much too aggravating to write about, and is giving everyone chest pains, so let's get back to this other business of a governor's election that will be held in November of 1994 whether we pay attention or not.

The mayor of Baltimore has been making all sorts of preliminary plans for a campaign, including the seducing of big-money people, who are taken to lunch and told of a certain poll. The poll allegedly shows Schmoke winning very easily over everybody, Democrat or Republican, who you can name except Robert Neall of Anne Arundel County, who gives him a pretty good fight.

This comes as bad news to those with their own plans, including Lt. Gov. Melvin "Mickey" Steinberg, who at the moment has no other professional reason to live.

Until recently, Steinberg thought Schmoke would not run for governor and told people as much. Now, informed by many that Schmoke is attempting to raise large money, Steinberg says, "Of course, he's telling people he's running. You think you're gonna ask for money and say you're not sure if you're running? That's not the way the game is played. But the dynamics could change."

If they do, many will be surprised. Bentley, for one. In a campaign against white male Democrats who run, she is considered an also-ran. In a campaign against Schmoke, with the insidious race factor, she believes she wins.

For the last week, incidentally, she returns none of my telephone calls. Why should she? She knows I want to talk politics, and she officially does not. Also, for the last week and more, I do not telephone Kurt L. Schmoke. Why should I? He spends the last six years making it difficult for any reporter to reach him, and such furtiveness makes everyone think the City of Baltimore is in even worse shape than it actually is.

And thus we bring you the terrifically fascinating news of a governor's race, even though it is too early for anyone with an actual life to care about.

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