Mayor likely to back Glendening CAMPAIGN 1994

April 28, 1994|By Michael A. Fletcher | Michael A. Fletcher,Sun Staff Writer

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke was expected to announce his endorsement today of gubernatorial candidate Parris N. Glendening, a move that would give the three-term Prince George's County executive a major boost in Baltimore.

Aides to Mr. Schmoke confirmed the planned endorsement yesterday but declined to comment until after a scheduled news conference.

The impending endorsement would further solidify the support Mr. Glendening is building among black elected officials and business leaders around Maryland.

Mr. Glendening had been courting Mr. Schmoke's support for months. He had held several meetings with the mayor in which Mr. Schmoke sought commitments from Mr. Glendening that he would help fiscally strapped Baltimore if he were elected governor.

Lately, there have been indications that Mr. Schmoke has been happy with Mr. Glendening's answers. For one, Larry S. Gibson, chairman of Mr. Schmoke's political committee, has had discussions with officials in Mr. Glendening's campaign about directing the candidate's Baltimore effort.

And on the opening day of the baseball season, Mr. Glendening watched the Orioles from Mr. Schmoke's skybox.

While Mr. Glendening is vying to break Baltimore's hold on statewide politics and become the first elected governor from the Washington area since 1867, he has also consistently emphasized Baltimore's importance to Maryland.

He has campaigned repeatedly in the city, meeting with community groups and attending small fund-raisers in his honor. Also, during a rally to launch his campaign officially Monday, he told supporters, "Baltimore is indeed central to the well-being of this state."

The endorsement from Mr. Schmoke is just the latest sign of support building among blacks.

Last month, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate was in Atlanta, where he was feted at a fund-raiser organized by Bill Campbell, that city's black mayor.

And a recent evaluation of gubernatorial candidates by a coalition of African-American organizations in Maryland offered Mr. Glendening strong praise for his response to questions about crime, education, the environment and other issues.

"The candidate was described by one of the evaluators as the best vehicle by which African-Americans will be given an opportunity to share fully in Maryland's political and economic future," said Lisa B. Williams, a Baltimore candidate for delegate who helped coordinate the survey.

Other candidates also enjoy black support. And many elected officials have yet to make endorsements. But many elected officials say that they have been courted most consistently by Mr. Glendening.

He is considered a front-runner in the Democratic field, which includes Lt. Gov. Melvin A. Steinberg, state Sens. Mary H. Boergers of Montgomery County and American Joe Miedusiewski and former Del. Frank M. Conaway, both of Baltimore.

"I think Glendening has been more crafty and persistent than the other candidates about solidifying the most loyal base of the Democratic Party, which is the African-American community," said state Sen. Larry Young, who remains uncommitted. "He's ahead in doing that, although I know the other candidates are beginning to do that."

A pitch for diversity

The blacks who are supporting Mr. Glendening say they are impressed by the racial diversity of the Prince George's County administration, the multiracial makeup of his campaign staff and his stated commitment to "inclusiveness."

At the official campaign kick-off rally Monday, Mr. Glendening made power-sharing a central theme, saying, "It is time to put aside the prejudices and stereotypes that keep us from fully realizing our potential as a community."

It is a message he has repeated often as he has crisscrossed Maryland in search of support. And it is one that is reaping benefits.

By his own estimate, 15 percent of the approximately $2 million raised by his campaign has come from minority business people. And he has been endorsed by several influential black politicians, including Howard County Council Chairman C. Vernon Gray and Sen. Decatur W. Trotter of Prince George's.

"When it comes to the minority community, I think he is sensitive to our concerns and has demonstrated that with his economic initiatives in Prince George's County," said Michael J. Moore, co-chair of Mr. Glendening's Calvert County campaign, a county commissioner and a candidate for the House of Delegates.

A history of support

If Mr. Glendening is able to translate his early black support into actual votes in the Sept. 13 primary, it would be a huge boost to his candidacy: Not only do blacks make up about 25 percent of the state's Democratic electorate, but they have a history of throwing most of their support behind one candidate.

That is history of which Mr. Glendening is acutely aware. And he is trying to make it work for him.

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