Gerry Brewster: Reaching across years of privilege to the people CAMPAIGN 1994 -- CONGRESS 2ND DISTRICT

August 16, 1994|By Glenn Small | Glenn Small,Sun Staff Writer

Gerry L. Brewster loves bad weather.

For months every morning at 7, the 35-year-old lawyer and delegate from Towson has been working busy intersections around the far-flung 2nd Congressional District, waving at motorists driving to work. Sometimes, when traffic is stopped, he reaches into cars and shakes hands.

"What I really like is when it's raining," Mr. Brewster said on a recent morning at Eastern Boulevard and Stemmers Run Road in Essex. "People say, 'You must want this job really bad to be out here at this hour in the rain.' And they're right."

Gerry Leiper Brewster very much wants to represent the 2nd District. It's the seat his father, Daniel B. Brewster, held for two terms before going on to serve one six-year term in the U.S. Senate. The son's election would be a chance to renew the family's national political fortunes.

If he wins the Democratic primary, Mr. Brewster is likely to face a well-financed and respected Republican, Del. Robert Ehrlich, in the general election in a district that looks Democratic from the outside but tends to vote Republican.

As a child growing up in northern Baltimore County, Gerry Brewster was surrounded by politics. He attended Gilman School and then Princeton University, graduating in 1979. He went to work for Sen. Charles McC. Mathias, the Republican who defeated Gerry Brewster's father in the 1968 election.

In 1984, Gerry Brewster graduated from the University of Baltimore law school and became an assistant state's attorney in Baltimore County. He served from 1985 to 1988, prosecuting hundreds of cases before signing on as educational liaison for then-County Executive Dennis F. Rasmussen.

As Mr. Rasmussen's ship was sinking in 1990, Mr. Brewster ran for the House of Delegates and won. This year, with Republican Helen Delich Bentley leaving Congress to run for governor, Mr. Brewster launched a powerful, well-organized campaign to win her seat and return it to Democratic control after 10 years.

By all accounts, Mr. Brewster has the best name recognition, the most organized campaign and the most money of the Democratic hopefuls.

It appeared that he had clear sailing in the Sept. 13 primary until Del. Connie Galiazzo DeJuliis, a popular community activist from Dundalk, entered the race and turned it into a hard-fought contest.

Still, Mr. Brewster said, he would be running hard even without Mrs. DeJuliis in the race.

As a former prosecutor, Mr. Brew- ster said, he is tough on crime. He favors the death penalty, and this year co-sponsored legislation requiring mandatory sentences for two-time violent offenders. He also co-sponsored legislation allowing parole hearings to be open to the public if victims request it.

A moderate on most issues, Mr. Brewster is pro-choice on abortion, says he favors a line-item veto for the president and believes in health care reform and welfare reform. This year, he voted to ban assault-style weapons in Maryland.

Despite his patrician upbringing, Mr. Brewster says, he understands the problems of working people, thanks to his years as a prosecutor in Dundalk and Essex and as the county's education liaison.

To win the primary, Mr. Brewster knows, he must do well in Ms. DeJuliis' home turf of Essex and Dundalk.

He has gotten the backing of state Sen. Michael Collins and Dels. E. Farrell Maddox and Michael Weir, longtime Essex politicians who have placed Mr. Brewster on their ticket.

"He's shown a lot of interest in the area," said Senator Collins, a Kenwood High School teacher for 30 years. "He's far more visible down here than any of the other candidates."

Also, the Brewster name still packs a lot of punch, even though Daniel Brewster was convicted in November 1972 of accepting unlawful gratuities from a mail order company and a lobbyist.

"A lot of older folks remember his father, fondly," Mr. Collins said. "I think that's helping him down here."

However, thanks to reapportionment and demographic changes, the 2nd District is not the same one that Gerry Brewster's father won in 1958 and 1960. It now comprises nearly 300,000 people in eastern and northern Baltimore County, all of Harford County's 182,000 residents and about 45,000 people in a slice of Anne Arundel County around Gibson Island. Although registered Dem

ocrats outnumber Republicans 2 to 1, the predominantly white, suburban district has turned out for Republican congressional and presidential candidates in recent years, electing Mrs. Bentley by comfortable margins five times.

Mr. Brewster's campaign strategists, a polished group of

experienced Democrats, have him zig-zagging around the district. On a recent day, he began in Towson, waved at intersections in Essex, toured a school for the handicapped in Harford County, shook hands at a rally in Dundalk, toured businesses in Essex, shook hands during rush hour in Towson, attended a waterfront political event in Anne Arundel County and returned to Essex for Democratic club meetings.

He picked up endorsements from the Bird River and Riverside Democratic clubs, and then drove himself home. His day began at 6:30 a.m. and ended at 10:30 p.m.

He was happy but not complacent. "A campaign is like a roller coaster," he said. "Today was a good day, but tomorrow I could get a kick in the teeth."

Which means he'll be out again, bright and early, smiling and waving to motorists, hoping for rain.

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