Schmoke Boosts Glendening Campaign 1994

April 29, 1994|By Robert Timberg and JoAnna Daemmrich | Robert Timberg and JoAnna Daemmrich,Sun Staff Writers

A two-year political courtship paid off in a big way for Parris N. Glendening yesterday as Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke threw his support to the Prince George's County executive, a move that could dramatically alter the shape of the contest for Maryland's next governor.

The mayor's endorsement is a development of the first order, as it links the leading Democratic candidate from the burgeoning suburban Washington area, which has not elected a governor since 1867, with the city that has historically dominated the politics of the state.

By endorsing Mr. Glendening, the mayor rejected two major Baltimore metropolitan area candidates -- Lt. Gov. Melvin A. Steinberg of Baltimore County and state Sen. American Joe Miedusiewski of East Baltimore.

Baltimore elected officials and political observers called the endorsement a significant boost that guarantees the Glendening campaign fund-raising power and a savvy, sizable organization of campaign workers in the city.

Addressing a noontime rally of about 250 supporters and bystanders in sun-drenched City Hall Plaza, the city's first elected black mayor said of Mr. Glendening, who stood beside him, "He's somebody I believe will be a partner in progress with Baltimore.

"He recognizes our problems and certainly understands the importance of a diverse community. Parris Glendening has always spoken about racial diversity as the strength of this state, not something we should be worried about, but something we should glory in."

Mr. Schmoke said Mr. Glendening was committed to expanding education and police aid to the city and had pledged to back efforts to eliminate auto insurance rates based on geography so that premiums "are based on how you drive, not where you live."

Mr. Glendening reprised remarks he made Monday at the official kickoff of his campaign in College Park, saying suburban Washington residents "must recognize that Baltimore is indeed central to the well-being of the state. . . . Baltimore's success or failure affects every single Marylander in very meaningful ways."

He made it clear, however, that he was not planning to tilt toward the city at the expense of his political base. "The well-being of Montgomery and Prince George's County is important to the future of Baltimore as well," he said. "We are linked together by ties of economic destiny and mutual need."

The mayor's chief political strategist, Larry S. Gibson, also joined the Glendening camp yesterday. Mr. Gibson was the architect of Mr. Schmoke's two successful mayoral campaigns and of Bill Clinton's smashing 1992 general election victory in the city.

Mr. Gibson said he intends to do everything in his power to elect Mr. Glendening.

Mr. Steinberg, Mr. Miedusiewski and other Democratic aspirants sought to minimize the endorsement, even though the mayor said all of the major candidates had sought his support.

A Steinberg spokesman, Dan Walter, said the endorsement could be "good news" for his boss, noting that Mr. Schmoke backed Stephen H. Sachs, then attorney general, for governor in 1986, when he was beaten by Gov. William Donald Schaefer, and Bill Clinton in the 1992 primary that was won by Paul E. Tsongas.

"The city of Baltimore as well as the black community in Baltimore are not monoliths," added Mr. Walter.

Mr. Miedusiewski was more blunt. "We have the mayor of a city with the highest crime rate and the worst education system endorsing a county executive with the second-highest crime rate and the second-worst education system," he said. "It's an accident waiting to happen."

Another candidate, state Sen. Mary H. Boergers of Montgomery County, said the endorsement could backfire. "When elected officials endorse, some of their supporters go along with them, but often their political enemies go somewhere else," she said.

Other Democratic candidates include former Baltimore legislator Frank M. Conaway, former state Sen. Edward J. Kasemeyer of Howard County and Lawrence K. Freeman, a follower of political activist Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr. Montgomery County businessman Stewart Bainum Jr. is expected to enter the race next month.

The Republican candidates are Rep. Helen Delich Bentley of Baltimore County, Del. Ellen R. Sauerbrey, the minority leader of the Maryland House, and William S. Shepard, a former foreign service officer who was the 1990 GOP standard-bearer.

Political observers for the most part saw the endorsement as giving Mr. Glendening, who is not well known in the Baltimore region, new visibility and enhanced political standing in the Baltimore area and on his home turf.

Pollster Brad Coker of Baltimore-based Mason-Dixon Political Media Research said the endorsement puts Mr. Glendening on an equal footing with Mr. Steinberg, the only statewide officeholder in the race, and "may be the first step" toward establishing Mr. Glendening as the front-runner.

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