Sauerbrey reportedly taps ex-police chief as running mate

April 19, 1994|By Robert Timberg | Robert Timberg,Sun Staff Writer

Baltimore County Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey has become the first major candidate for governor to select a running mate, reaching into neighboring Howard County to tap Paul H. Rappaport, a little-known former police chief, sources close to the campaign said yesterday.

Mrs. Sauerbrey, the minority leader of the Maryland House of Delegates, plans to announce her selection of Mr. Rappaport for the lieutenant governor slot tomorrow. Immediately afterward, they will embark on a Clinton-Gore-style bus tour around the state to showcase the new ticket.

The two-day tour is designed to highlight the law-and-order appeal Mrs. Sauerbrey hopes Mr. Rappaport will bring to the ticket, as well as his previous experience with the Maryland State Police.

The tour kicks off at state police headquarters in Pikesville. Events are scheduled at state police barracks in Frederick and Bel Air, along with three county courthouses.

Absent from the itinerary was the county police headquarters in Ellicott City, where Mr. Rappaport's relations with rank-and-file officers were not always harmonious during his eight years as chief, a tenure that ended in controversy.

Mr. Rappaport, who was admitted to the Maryland Bar in 1974, practices law in Ellicott City, handling criminal, traffic and civil work.

Reached at his law office yesterday, Mr. Rappaport, who turns 60 tomorrow, refused to confirm his selection. "At this point I've got to say it's speculation," he said.

Delegate Sauerbrey, 56, could not be reached for comment.

Her campaign spokesman, Richards R. Badmington, would say only that Mrs. Sauerbrey has balanced her record as a fiscal conservative with a running mate "whose long career has been on the front lines in the fight against crime."

It was not immediately clear how much Mrs. Sauerbrey helps her cause with her choice of Mr. Rappaport, who is little known outside Howard County and offers next to nothing in the way of geographic balance to the ticket.

One of the sources said the geographic limitations were considered, but that Mrs. Sauerbrey decided voters are most concerned with "how government spends its money and the way it fails to protects its citizens, so the issue became more important than geography."

As for Mr. Rappaport's status as a relative unknown, the source said, "It's a challenge."

The source also said Mr. Rappaport was Mrs. Sauerbrey's first choice for the lieutenant governor slot.

The apparent front-runner for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, Rep. Helen Delich Bentley, declined comment through a spokesman, Gordon Hensley.

The third candidate, retired foreign service officer William S. Shepard, the GOP's 1990 standard-bearer, said he had met Mr. Rappaport, and did not know him well, but welcomed him into the race.

Mr. Rappaport spent 36 years in law enforcement, having risen to the rank of major in the state police when then-Howard County Executive J. Hugh Nichols named him county police chief in 1979.

He spent eight years in the post, relinquishing it in early 1987 after Elizabeth Bobo, Mr. Nichols' successor, said it was "time for new leadership" and asked for his resignation.

The final year of Mr. Rappaport's tenure was a stormy one. In May 1986, the Howard County Police Officers Association voted no confidence in Mr. Rappaport and called for his removal.

The next month the union took out newspaper advertisements charging that the county was inadequately patrolled, used outdated equipment and did not provide enough training for officers.

In response, Mr. Rappaport ordered an internal investigation of several officers considered responsible for the ads but backed off when the union sued to block the probe.

Later in 1986, the department was criticized by the county Human Relations Commission for not hiring and promoting more blacks and women.

That same year, Mr. Rappaport was named president of the Maryland Association of Chiefs of Police, at the time numbering nearly 300 members.

During his state police career, Mr. Rappaport worked primarily in the Criminal Investigation Division, initially serving as an undercover officer. In 1975, after his promotion to captain, he was put in charge of the division, where he oversaw all state police investigations.

In 1977 he headed state police efforts in a successful sting known as Operation Bear Trap. The phony fence operation was a joint effort by the FBI and state and local police departments to trap people dealing in stolen goods.

Although Mr. Rappaport has never held elective office, his wife, Margaret D. Rappaport, was elected clerk of Howard Circuit Court in 1990, ousting a longtime Democratic incumbent, Merritt Pumphrey.

Mrs. Sauerbrey's selection of Mr. Rappaport was closely guarded, with few outside of her inner circle aware of the choice as late as yesterday, even though she settled on Mr. Rappaport last week.

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