Bentley, Glendening exchange swipes about running mates CAMPAIGN 1994 -- THE RACE FOR GOVERNOR

June 22, 1994|By John W. Frece and Thomas W. Waldron | John W. Frece and Thomas W. Waldron,Sun Staff Writers

Democrat Parris N. Glendening and Republican Helen Delich Bentley formally introduced their gubernatorial running mates yesterday -- then lost no time in criticizing the other's selection.

As expected, Mrs. Bentley, the congresswoman from Baltimore County and GOP front-runner, picked state Sen. Howard A. Denis of Montgomery County to run for lieutenant governor on her ticket.

Also as expected, Mr. Glendening, the Prince George's County executive and leader in the Democratic field, chose U.S. Deputy Assistant Attorney General Kathleen Kennedy Townsend to take the second spot on his.

Mrs. Bentley -- backed by an array of Maryland Republican luminaries, including former U.S. Sens. J. Glenn Beall and Charles McC. Mathias Jr., and incumbent Rep. Constance A. Morella -- quickly took a shot at Mrs. Townsend, whom she handily defeated in a congressional race in 1986.

The congresswoman mocked reports that the daughter of the late Robert F. Kennedy would bring "mystique" to Mr. Glendening's campaign.

"Theirs is a Trojan Horse ticket," Mrs. Bentley told applauding supporters in both Bethesda and Baltimore, "a ticket which, in the dead of night, will tow to Annapolis a bevy of special-interest groups that will be given a blank check and a wink and a nod."

She characterized the Glendening ticket as "nothing more than 1970s-style big government with a new coat of slick varnish -- and the taxpayers of Maryland will take a shellacking."

Mr. Glendening, at his news conference with Mrs. Townsend in Annapolis, defended his selection, and replied: "I did not go out and pick somebody who is my opposite. I picked someone with the same basic political values."

Mrs. Bentley and Mr. Denis have historically held sharply different views on variety of topics. Yesterday, she readily acknowledged their past differences but said, "Therein lies our strength."

Beginning in December, Mr. Denis turned down early entreaties by Mrs. Bentley to run with her. But he said he reluctantly agreed to give up his apparently safe Senate seat after ironing out differences on abortion and gun control.

As a state legislator the past 18 years, Mr. Denis has consistently supported abortion rights and stronger gun control measures. Mrs. Bentley has not been consistent on either issue, although she has tended most often to vote against both.

Yesterday, the pair said that they have agreed not to propose any changes to existing laws on either issue. That means the state's relatively new statute guaranteeing abortion rights would not be threatened but that those who favor more stringent gun control laws would find little help from a Bentley-Denis team in the State House.

"We have laws on both abortion and gun control in the state of Maryland. They have been passed by the General Assembly and signed by the governor. I intend to enforce the existing laws of the state," Mrs. Bentley said. Asked if that meant she would not attempt to change them, she replied: "That's right."

Such fundamental differences on issues was not evident in Annapolis, where Mr. Glendening introduced Mrs. Townsend.

Mrs. Townsend, 42, invoked the Kennedy legacy, quoting her late father in the second paragraph of her speech.

She said Mr. Glendening brings to mind Robert F. Kennedy's words: "Youth is not a time of life, but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of the imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity."

Joining Mrs. Townsend yesterday were her mother, Ethel M. Kennedy; her husband, David, a professor at St. John's College in Annapolis; and three of their four daughters.

Mr. Denis, 54, a nonpracticing lawyer and professor of government at University College, the University of Maryland's night school, was joined by his wife, Babette.

He praised Mrs. Bentley, whom he said he has known for 20 years, for keeping the state Republican Party "a balanced, open party" several years ago when it was about to be taken over by Republicans from the Christian right.

Mr. Glendening said that he selected Mrs. Townsend partly because he wanted to assure Baltimore-area voters that a governor from the Washington suburbs would not ignore the city's needs. Mrs. Townsend lives in Ruxton in Baltimore County.

He said that the Kennedy family's fund-raising prowess was not a "primary factor" in her selection, but he added with a laugh, "We are not going to reject that extra support."

Mrs. Townsend resigned yesterday from her position in the Justice Department. She was named to the post last year by Attorney General Janet Reno and helped oversee a variety of programs, including grants to local law enforcement agencies.

In their remarks, the two front-runners virtually ignored other candidates: Lt. Gov. Melvin A. Steinberg of Pikesville and state Sens. Mary H. Boergers of Montgomery County and American Joe Miedusiewski of Baltimore on the Democratic side and Republicans Ellen R. Sauerbrey of Baltimore County and William S. Shepard of Montgomery County .

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