Bentley, Glendening for governor Evening Sun Endorsements

August 24, 1994

Three issues outweigh all others in the Sept. 13 primary for governor: Maryland's structural deficit; the state's inability to attract and retain jobs, and the need for strong executive leadership capable of reinventing state government.

The next governor must address each of these matters. Painful choices lie ahead. The state's spending habits can no longer exceed tax revenues. A crusade must be launched to develop a pro-business attitude. A top-to-bottom shake-up of the $13 billion state government is overdue.

That's a tall order. Which of the four leading Democrats and three Republicans can best handle these assignments?

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On the Democratic side, state Sen. American Joe Miedusiewski of Baltimore City has been a pleasant surprise with his common-sense approach to state problems. He gives conservative Democrats a real choice with his tough anti-crime proposals and his no-new-taxes stance.

State Sen. Mary Boergers of Montgomery County has focused on women's rights issues and social concerns that have defied easy solutions. She has been up-front in discussing the budget headache that awaits the next governor.

Lt. Gov. Mickey Steinberg of Baltimore County, the most experienced Democrat, has weathered constant campaign turmoil. He has hammered away at the need to attack Maryland's deficit and has made sound proposals for reducing health-care costs. His past successes in working with the legislature cannot be discounted.

Our choice, though, is Prince George's County Executive Parris N. Glendening, who has a comprehensive, long-range plan and has run a major suburban county with considerable success.

Mr. Glendening says he is a mainstream Democrat in the mold of former Sen. Paul Tsongas. He favors handgun control, abortion rights and some tough measures to crack down on criminals. He is committed to an exhaustive re-examination of government agencies.

We are most impressed by his 12 years of executive experience in a large, multi-racial jurisdiction with serious crime and school problems. He did not solve them -- that would be asking the impossible -- but he acted decisively to support magnet schools and to turn the P.G. police department into a more professional agency. If his close ties to Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke pay off, he will lend Baltimore City a constructive, helping hand.

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On the Republican side, GOP voters have an honest-to-goodness primary. That in itself is encouraging for a party still struggling to become a viable alternative in Maryland politics.

Del. Ellen R. Sauerbrey is an articulate advocate of supply-side economics. As House minority leader from Baltimore County, she was relentless in pushing Reaganomics. She has called for sweeping budget cuts and a 24-percent cut in taxes.

William S. Shepard, a former diplomat, has shown a grasp of what awaits the next governor. He has spent five years immersing himself in policy detail, and he has emerged as a legitimate heir to the moderate-to-liberal Republican traditions of Charles McC. Mathias and Theodore Roosevelt McKeldin, especially in addressing the plight of this state's poorer jurisdictions.

But when it comes to focusing on the big issues, Rep. Helen Delich Bentley has a decided edge. There's no doubt what she considers this state's No. 1 need: jobs. She has sparkled in the arena of job-retention and job-creation. Her bulldog determination has been on display time and again as a member of Congress intent on securing contracts and investments for her home state.

Whenever a Maryland company was in trouble, Mrs. Bentley was there to help. If she had to dress down the secretary of the Navy, she did it. If she had to mediate a bitter labor dispute, she did it. She is tireless and persuasive.

Make no mistake: she is a staunch fiscal conservative who would freeze government spending and embark on agency cuts to avoid raising taxes. She talks of removing fraud and waste in government as though this were a panacea. She is ill-informed about the intimate workings of state government, especially all-important budget matters.

And yet, Mrs. Bentley's leadership qualities stand out. She has been a stabilizing element in the state party and has brought the party to the verge of a major triumph. She would be a strong executive, intent on re-shaping state government in order to break the tax-and-spend mentality of previous administrations. More than the other Republicans, she would place economic development at the very top of the agenda.

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Neither of our choices is perfect. Mr. Glendening has yet to prove he can overcome his parochial instincts in favor of the Washington suburbs. He has erred in making too many expensive commitments to special interests. His dedication to education reform has been questioned. He hasn't been convincing that he can embark on costly new spending programs while also erasing the deficit.

As for Mrs. Bentley, she must master the issues. Her lack of attention to the problems of Baltimore City and other poor jurisdictions is disappointing. If she indulges her ideological inclinations, this would ill-serve her as governor, where problem-solving is far more important than partisanship.

The two candidates need to address these concerns in the weeks before the primary, and afterward if they win on Sept. 13. Forceful and creative leadership is what voters ought to favor, as exemplified by Republican Helen Bentley and Democrat Parris Glendening.

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