Mitchell reconsidering bid for governor House speaker cites Schmoke's decision not to run

September 25, 1993|By William F. Zorzi Jr. | William F. Zorzi Jr.,Staff Writer

Maryland's House speaker said yesterday that he is again considering making a run for governor in the Democratic primary next year now that Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke has taken himself out of the race.

R. Clayton Mitchell Jr., an Eastern Shoreman from rural Kent County, said he had considered a bid earlier this year but dismissed it in the spring after the General Assembly ended -- about the same time Mr. Schmoke announced he was considering a run for the State House.

"I've had more people ask me about it than I did before -- considerably more people -- and the possibility is there," Mr. Mitchell, 57, said. "It certainly makes it more appealing because the mayor is not in it now."

Mr. Schmoke announced Monday that he would not run for governor but instead would seek a third term as mayor in 1995.

Mr. Mitchell said that since the mayor's announcement, a number of Democrats have urged him to consider running. "I think people are looking for a moderate conservative who's pro-business, though not totally pro-business, and looking for someone who's got some vision for where the state ought to go," he said.

Mr. Schmoke's announcement, coming on the heels of Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr.'s decision not to get into the governor's race, reduced the Democratic field to three likely candidates: Lt. Gov. Melvin A. Steinberg of Baltimore County, Prince George's County Executive Parris N. Glendening, and Sen. Mary H. Boergers of Montgomery County.

But political prognosticators believe more candidates may come forward.

Despite much recent speculation, the field probably will not include Donald P. Hutchinson, the former Baltimore County executive, state senator and delegate, and the new president of the Greater Baltimore Committee.

Mr. Hutchinson said yesterday that he was "flattered" to be mentioned but that he was looking forward to his new responsibilities with the GBC. "It's hard for me to imagine any scenario for me to get into any race," Mr. Hutchinson said.

Mr. Mitchell, the iron-fisted speaker of the House of Delegates since 1987, has never waged a statewide race and has run unopposed for six terms as a legislator from Kent County.

Launching a statewide race from scratch would be tough, he said.

"Money is not going to be easy to raise for this race. . . . You would need somewhere in the $3 million range," said Mr. Mitchell, a Radio Shack franchise owner with valuable land holdings on the Shore.

Some legislators said that Mr. Mitchell has overstayed his welcome as leader of the House and that he is looking to get out.

In December, he survived a coup attempt by then-House Speaker Pro Tem Nancy K. Kopp, a Montgomery County Democrat.

Mr. Mitchell has made no secret of his desire to become state treasurer should that job become vacant, though incumbent Lucille Maurer is in no apparent hurry to step down.

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