Governor embraces Miedusiewski, sort of CAMPAIGN 1994 -- THE RACE FOR GOVERNOR

August 10, 1994|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,Sun Staff Writer

*TC Gov. William Donald Schaefer called gubernatorial candidate American Joe Miedusiewski a great guy yesterday, loyal and nice.

The governor asked about 100 of his friends to tell their friends about the state senator from East Baltimore and to open their checkbooks for his campaign.

He even urged them to vote for him.

Nice endorsement, right? Nope, said Mr. Schaefer.

"I don't endorse anybody," Mr. Schaefer coyly told reporters after speaking at an East Baltimore fund-raising event he arranged on Mr. Miedusiewski's behalf. "I just brought a couple friends down here to hear American Joe because he has a tough time in some areas getting his message across."

Whatever it was that Mr. Schaefer did, Mr. Miedusiewski and his troops were grateful for the support and the approximately $25,000 raised at the $250-a-head breakfast.

"He's dependable. He stays with you. I like that," Mr. Schaefer said. "He's loyal, trustworthy and a friend."

"People say to me, 'I like him, but can he win?' " Mr. Schaefer added. "I say he can. He started at ground zero, and he's gone up in the polls."

To continue climbing, Mr. Miedusiewski needs to come up with enough money to put his message on television.

The Democrat who has led in the polls, Prince George's County Executive Parris N. Glendening, last week launched a $1 million advertising blitz that will continue through the Sept. 13 primary.

"American Joe doesn't have that kind of money," Mr. Schaefer said. "If you can help him out with money, I know he'll appreciate it."

But it's unclear how much of a boost Mr. Schaefer will give Mr. Miedusiewski.

Several candidates who have received the governor's formal blessing in recent years have lost, most notably George Bush, a Republican embraced by Mr. Schaefer in the last days of the 1992 presidential campaign. And Mr. Schaefer's positive ratings remain low, with only 39 percent of Marylanders surveyed in a June poll saying he has done a good or excellent job.

Even so, the governor's support should mean more money for Mr. Miedusiewski, which will be crucial for him to have a chance, according to Brad Coker, president of Mason-Dixon Political Media Research.

"If it hurts him with some voters in some areas, it might be a risk he has to take," Mr. Coker said.

Mr. Miedusiewski and his campaign team were ready to take that risk.

"The governor's help and support was very much appreciated," said Jim Brochin, Mr. Miedusiewski's campaign manager.

Mr. Miedusiewski has been touting his momentum after a poll last month showed him jumping into second place among the Democratic contenders, even though he still trailed Mr. Glendening by a margin of 38 percent to 16 percent.

In a brief speech yesterday, Mr. Miedusiewski, 44, stressed his get-tough approach to crime and the need for state accountability of local education efforts.

He said the Democratic primary has come down to a two-person race between him and Mr. Glendening.

And he tried to put the best possible face on the fact that Mr. Glendening is all over the airwaves while he is still scrambling for money for televised commercials.

"Parris is on the air because he's been bought by special interests," Mr. Miedusiewski said. "Now he's trying to buy the voters."

David Seldin, a spokesman for Mr. Glendening, said it was "a little bit odd" for Mr. Miedusiewski to use the opportunity of a fund-raiser attended by Baltimore business leaders to accuse Mr. Glendening of being too cozy with special interests.

Some who came yesterday seemed to be simply hedging their bets. At least two people in the crowd have already contributed to a rival candidate, Lt. Gov. Melvin A. Steinberg. And George V. McGowan, former chairman of Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., has also given to a Republican candidate, U.S. Rep. Helen Delich Bentley.

"I'm a friend of Joe's. We've had some interaction in the legislature over the years," said Mr. McGowan. "I'm just here to give him a little support."

As for Mr. Miedusiewski's prospects: "Who knows?" Mr. McGowan said. "His campaign certainly seems to have jelled."

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