Ruppersberger to run for executive CAMPAIGN 1994

April 26, 1994|By Patrick Gilbert | Patrick Gilbert,Sun Staff Writer

One more Baltimore County executive candidate made it official yesterday when Councilman Charles A. Dutch Ruppersberger said he wanted the opportunity to offer the county hope for the future.

"Baltimore County stands at a crossroads," Mr. Ruppersberger said in his announcement address in Towson, "at a crossroads in education, crime, jobs, economy and overall equality of life. The road we take should be one of hope, not decline."

The 3rd District Democrat also took a few potshots at incumbent Republican Executive Roger B. Hayden with an allusion to a lingering effect of the past winter, saying the "county executive's record is full of potholes."

The nine-year County Council veteran carried his opening-day campaign to each of the seven council districts and said a poll conducted for his organization shows him running ahead of the rest of the Democratic field by a 2-1 margin.

After campaigning unofficially for nearly a year, Mr. Ruppersberger becomes the second Democratic candidate to announce. State Sen. Nancy L. Murphy threw her hat into the ring in January, and Councilman Melvin G. Mintz, D-2nd, has scheduled an announcement for Sunday.

Baltimore County District Judge John C. Coolahan, a former state senator, has told friends that he, too, is interested in running.

His retirement from the bench will not take effect until May 9, however, and until then he is prohibited by judicial ethics from partisan political activities.

The polls, partisans and party insiders paint conflicting pictures of the campaign.

"It's still early yet, but so far it looks like Nancy Murphy might play better down here on the Eastside," Essex Del. E. Farrell Maddox said of the county's traditional blue-collar voter base. "But if John Coolahan gets into the race, that could change that. So sit tight."

"I don't see anyone leading the field at this point," said Democratic State Sen. Janice Piccinini, who represents northern and western areas.

Ruppersberger campaign officials said their numbers tell a different story. Although he refused to disclose specific results, campaign coordinator Bob Barrett said the Ruppersberger poll showed him leading the field not only countywide, but also on the Eastside. With its dense population and heavy turnout, the Eastside is considered critical for any candidate.

"We lead in every council district that doesn't have its own candidate," Mr. Barrett said.

He said the poll, conducted last week by Hickman/Brown Public Opinion Research, showed Mr. Ruppersberger running a strong second to Mr. Mintz in the Pikesville-based 2nd District and a decent third behind Mr. Coolahan and Mrs. Murphy in the Westside 1st District.

"I'd like to see the Ruppersberger poll, because I don't believe those numbers at all," Jack Barnhart, Mrs. Murphy's campaign manager, said.

Pat Gonzales of the Mason-Dixon Campaign Polling and Strategy Inc. said a survey conducted for Del. Joseph Bartenfelder in March, when the Perry Hall Democrat was considering running for county executive, found that 60 percent of the Eastside Democrats and 50 percent of Democrats countywide were undecided.

Although Ruppersberger campaign officials say Mr. Mintz is trailing the field in their poll, Mr. Mintz said that doesn't mean much now.

Mr. Mintz, who has raised $310,000 in campaign contributions, said that in his own district, he is running ahead of Mr. Ruppersberger by a 5-1 margin.

He also noted that his district has the county's largest Democratic voter base.

Mr. Barrett said the Ruppersberger campaign has raised about $250,000, with the largest fund-raiser yet to be held.

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