Sauerbrey again assails Bentley record CAMPAIGN 1994 -- THE RACE FOR GOVERNOR

May 19, 1994|By William F. Zorzi Jr. | William F. Zorzi Jr.,Sun Staff Writer

When speaking from the GOP mountaintop, Ronald Reagan handed down his Eleventh Command- ment: "Thou shalt not speak ill of any other Republican."

But the axiom seems to have lost something in the translation for two GOP candidates for governor, Maryland House Minority Leader Ellen R. Sauerbrey and U.S. Rep. Helen Delich Bentley.

Delegate Sauerbrey assailed Mrs. Bentley's voting record again yesterday, charging that the 2nd District congresswoman consistently votes against "the Republican agenda." She made the charges while standing in a field opposite Mrs. Bentley's Towson campaign headquarters after being chased across the street by a man identifying himself as the representative of the building's owner.

Not to be outdone, Bentley campaign workers answered the charges by marching through a small group of onlookers, supporters and reporters to place two toy beach pails -- "Mudslinging Kits" -- on the podium where Mrs. Sauerbrey was speaking, obscuring the view of the candidate.

Each kit consisted of a toy shovel, a plastic bottle of water and a plastic food-storage bag full of mud.

With them were instructions that read: "1. Use only when you are be low 10 percent in the polls. 2. Falsely attack the front-runner in the race. 3. Apply data from liberal rating groups to distort the front-runner's voting record. 4. Sling away."

The instructions also said, "Mudslinging is a desperate act and should only be used as a last resort."

Sauerbrey aides knocked away the pails and, once they were on the ground, kicked them to the side. Bentley campaign workers, carrying placards, looked on from behind the crowd.

Mrs. Sauerbrey continued her remarks as if nothing had happened, though the tension between the opposing campaign workers became palpable. From that point on, a hulking Sauerbrey volunteer in sunglasses -- identified by aides only as "Terry from Harford County" -- stood between the Bentley workers and the crowd listening to Mrs. Sauerbrey, his arms folded across his chest.

"She had muscle here," a Bentley worker said, feigning alarm.

It was not-so-high political drama, which Bentley aides couched as comedy.

"We're sort of bemused by this. We didn't take her allegations seriously," said Key Kidder, Mrs. Bentley's campaign press secretary.

Mrs. Bentley was in Washington and unavailable for comment.

Mr. Kidder dismissed the charges by Mrs. Sauerbrey -- whom he called "Winky," a nickname from her youth -- as "spurious allegations."

The spokesman said the criticism of Mrs. Bentley, which Mrs. Sauerbrey first leveled Saturday at a GOP state convention, was act of desperation" brought on by her poor showing in a recent Bentley poll.

The poll showed Mrs. Bentley with a 4-to-1 lead over each of her GOP opponents -- Mrs. Sauerbrey and William S. Shepard, a retired foreign service officer and the 1990 Republican standard-bearer.

In Round Two of the battle between the two Republicans, Mrs. Sauerbrey repeated charges that Mrs. Bentley voted against efforts to cut spending, including the GOP's answer to President Clinton's budget bill and a measure to reduce free congressional mailings.

Mr. Kidder said later that Mrs. Bentley voted against the GOP budget bill and the Clinton budget bill in favor of her own, a plan to balance the budget by 2000.

He defended Mrs. Bentley's votes on franking privileges, saying that of the 13 times the issue of reductions has come up during her tenure, the congresswoman has voted for cuts 10 times.

Mrs. Sauerbrey also said Mrs. Bentley was a favorite of organized labor, taking in more money from labor's political action committees during the 1992 campaign than any other Republican member of the House of Representatives.

"Obviously, Mrs. Bentley is viewed positively by labor and business, which is a nice marriage for any candidate," Mr. Kidder said.

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