Summer snapshots

Bruce L. Bortz

August 12, 1993|By Bruce L. Bortz

OUR SUMMERTIME political photo album is bulging. We thought you might like a peek at some of its more revealing snapshots. Here are some souvenir pictures of:

* Strategists for Prince George's County gubernatorial hopeful Parris Glendening, shuddering over their worst nightmare: Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke also decides to enter the Democratic primary. Alarmed Glendening supporters sent out a less than subtle memo recently, outlining how the mayor's vote count has slid over a decade, while their hero's has risen.

Still, we're willing to bet that Mr. Schmoke takes more than enough black votes from Mr. Glendening to hurt the Prince George's Democrat. In the next Glendening assault, we expect to read that the mayor's city record of non-accomplishment, together with his continued advocacy of decriminalizing drugs, will almost certainly elect a Republican governor in 1994. What a bloody primary it could be!

* Congresswoman Helen Delich Bentley (R-2nd), enraptured while reading her profile in the just-released "Almanac of American Politics." The Bible of national politics says Bentley is unbeatable for re-election and could win the governor's mansion if the Democrats have a divisive primary. The "Almanac" write-up caps a year in which Mrs. Bentley has outdone most political Hamlets, getting reams of semi-adoring press coverage for doing nothing more than pondering a run for governor.

* Bonnie Kirkland on learning last month that she had won promotion to chief legislative lobbyist for Gov. William Donald Schaefer. The governor has often had a bit of a problem setting legislative priorities. In his final legislative session, he may be sorely tempted to seek enactment of a wider-than-usual array of bills, including many old ones that earlier had been defeated.

* Bruce Bereano, the state's top-earning lobbyist, as he happily paid his restaurant and bar bill at the recent Country and Blue Grass Festival in Western Maryland. Mr. Bereano reserved half of one restaurant in order to play host to 25 legislators (one-seventh of Maryland General Assembly) who had flocked to an event and a site (Rocky Gap State Park) long championed by Del. Cas Taylor (D-Allegany) and Governor Schaefer. The entrepreneurial Mr. Bereano doesn't miss a trick. He's now found yet another summertime locus for lobbying the General Assembly en-masse.

* Attorney General Joe Curran, fretting over press reports he may soon shed his gubernatorial ambitions. Mr. Curran's people politely dismiss the rumors. But Mr. Curran, more than many potential candidates, will need to quickly assess the field and his place in it. To drop back into a re-election race, the two-term AG can't waste much time; he could face formidable Democratic opposition, led, we expect, by former deputy AG Eleanor Carey.

Beyond that, there will be stiff GOP opposition, most likely from former U.S. Attorney Richard Bennett. Mr. Bennett, a solid fund-raiser and charming door-to-door campaigner, makes one of the most attractive Republican candidates for top state office in many years.

* Campaign operatives for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Melvin "Mickey" Steinberg, beaming over three days' worth of incendiary news accounts detailing sex-based suits brought against Dr. Neil Solomon in his role as personal physician.

The state's drug czar seemed to be hatching plans to run on a Perot-like platform for governor. Steinberg's forces have been trying to keep Dr. Solomon off the stump, fearful that he would eat into what they consider to be Mr. Steinberg's base of Baltimore Jewish voters. With a cloud like these suits over Dr. Solomon's head, it's hard to imagine him running for anything but cover.

Mr. Steinberg's candidacy, meantime, seems to be going nowhere. Having missed a big opportunity in not resigning when he had a solid pretext to do so -- major tax disagreements with the governor -- the lieutenant governor may now have to rely on stacking-the-field tactics. His best ploy would seem to be getting a friend from Montgomery County to run for governor to siphon off some Glendening votes there. Could there be an informal Steinberg-Boergers alliance in the works?

* Maryland journalists, salivating at the news that the elusive H. Furlong Baldwin, Mercantile Bank's chairman and CEO, will be moderating a Maryland Association of Counties session later this month. Mr. Baldwin is a big fund-raiser for and adviser to several candidates, including Mr. Steinberg, Robert R. Neall, Charles I. Ecker and Barbara Mikulski. Yet he refuses every media request for an on-the-record interview. A major political figure shouldn't be able to get off so lightly.

* Governor Schaefer, sullenly getting briefed on a recent Mason-Dixon poll that showed his popularity "doubling" between March and August. Actually, according to Maryland voters surveyed, the governor's "excellent" job performance rating did go from 1 percent to 2 percent -- tiny compared to most governors -- and his "good" rating went from 15 percent to 20 percent (also small). Of U.S. governors who have been in office more than a year, only three are more unpopular than Governor Schaefer. Of Maryland Democrats, two of every five consider Mr. Schaefer a poor governor

Bruce L. Bortz is editor of the Maryland Report newsletter. He writes on Maryland politics every other Thursday for Other Voices.

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