Little rest for gubernatorial hopefuls PRIMARY 1994

September 15, 1994|By Thomas W. Waldron and John W. Frece | Thomas W. Waldron and John W. Frece,Sun Staff Writers Sun staff writer Douglas Birch contributed to this article

Moving quickly to shape themes for the fall election, Democrat Parris N. Glendening boasted yesterday about his credentials to run state government while Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey vowed to overhaul it.

Mrs. Sauerbrey, an upset winner in the Republican gubernatorial primary over U.S. Rep. Helen Delich Bentley, told partisans at a GOP unity brunch in Annapolis that her platform of less government and lower income taxes already "is appealing to Democrats."

"People in Maryland are fed up," said Mrs. Sauerbrey, a four-term state delegate from Baltimore County and the House minority leader. "They're fed up with bloated budgets, high taxes, schools that don't work and the violent crime problem."

Mr. Glendening, meanwhile, said he wouldn't change his basic message -- that his 12 years as executive of Prince George's County makes him more qualified to run the state.

"I have run a major government in a tough community," Mr. Glendening said during a hand-shaking trip in Pikesville. "Delegates have two staff members only. And you have to say, 'Where is [Mrs. Sauerbrey's] executive experience?' "

Firing what will surely be a familiar salvo, Mr. Glendening also dismissed Mrs. Sauerbrey's proposed 24 percent cut in personal income taxes as unrealistic posturing.

"I'll look to reduce some taxes to bring jobs to Maryland, not just for rhetoric," he said.

Analysts quickly made Mr. Glendening the favorite, thanks mainly to Maryland's 2-to-1 Democratic edge in voter registration. But after watching Mrs. Sauerbrey come from far behind to overtake Mrs. Bentley, few were willing to make firm predictions.

Results in Tuesday's primary showed Mrs. Sauerbrey defeating Mrs. Bentley 52 percent to 38 percent. Former diplomat William S. Shepard trailed with 10 percent.

In the Democratic primary, Mr. Glendening lapped the field, beating his closest challenger, state Sen. American Joe Miedusiewski of Baltimore, 53 percent to 18 percent. Lt. Gov. Melvin A. Steinberg drew 15 percent and state Sen. Mary H. Boergers, 9 percent.

Mr. Glendening carried Baltimore and 21 of the 23 counties, rolling up enormous margins in the Washington suburbs.

Accompanied by U.S. Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, Mr. Glendening and his running mate, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, shook hands at a bagel shop, a deli and a grocery store.

"Meet the next governor," Mr. Glendening's aides told surprised shoppers.

An upbeat Mr. Glendening said he was cruising on adrenalin after getting only 2 1/2 hours of sleep on election night.

Uncharacteristically, Mr. Glendening let several shoppers escape without a handshake while he traded election night gossip with reporters and supporters in the meat aisle of the Seven Mile Market.

Both candidates spent time trying to heal some intra-party wounds inflicted during the campaign.

Mrs. Bentley, who has yet to concede the race publicly, showed up at the GOP brunch 45 minutes late.

Asked if she would enthusiastically support Mrs. Sauerbrey as the Republican nominee, Mrs. Bentley said, "I'll have to get a little bit more rest before I have any enthusiasm." Asked how long that might take, she said, "It'll take a while."

Later, as the two women were working their way between the tables, TV crews pushed them into a face-to-face meeting. Mrs. Sauerbrey extended her hand, and Mrs. Bentley twice slapped it away before eventually shaking it.

After a private discussion, Mrs. Sauerbrey said that Mrs. Bentley was not happy with the campaign waged against her and told the winner she could not support her candidacy -- at least not now.

"Helen feels very pained," she said. "I'm sure when Helen gets over the hurt of losing, she'll recognize that she's the national committeewoman and will support the ticket."

Mr. Glendening tried unsuccessfully to phone Mr. Miedusiewski and Mr. Steinberg, the one-time front-runner who refused to offer his support without a gesture of conciliation from the winner.

With or without the endorsements of his former rivals, Mr. Glendening and his advisers said they were thrilled with his prospects, noting that he had received 80,000 more votes than Mrs. Sauerbrey and Mrs. Bentley combined.

Some Democrats said they were pleased with Mrs. Sauerbrey's surprise victory.

"I was rooting for Sauerbrey to win," said former U.S. Rep. Michael D. Barnes, vice chairman of the state Democratic Party. "She has no base but a rather narrow band of ideologues who obviously dominate Republican politics in this state."

Mr. Glendening's chief political adviser, John T. Willis, said that Mrs. Sauerbrey's anti-abortion and anti-gun control stances would hurt her with voters, judging from the results of referendums on those issues in 1988 and 1992.

"Ellen is way away from where Maryland stood in those referendums," Mr. Willis said.

But Mrs. Sauerbrey said she expects the fall issues to be taxes, budgets and crime. She believes the first two are her specialties and said her running mate, veteran police officer Paul H. Rappaport, would be developing a comprehensive program to address the problem of crime.

"Maryland is not the Maryland of 20 years ago," she said, saying that the state is less liberal and less Democratic today. Voter registration, she said, has moved toward the Republicans, and "more importantly, the minds and hearts of Marylanders are moving in our direction."

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