GUBERNATORIAL candidates Parris Glendening and Ellen...

October 13, 1994|By THEO LIPPMAN JR.

GUBERNATORIAL candidates Parris Glendening and Ellen Sauerbrey came in one after the other on the same day.

I felt like a prophet with honor in my own land. At last. For nearly a quarter century I've been writing here, in magazine articles, in a book and elsewhere that suburban politicians would inherit the state, monopolizing the governorships and the Senate seats.

Since I first wrote that, not long after Baltimore County's Spiro T. Agnew rose from county executive to governor to vice president, here's what happened in Maryland:

No suburban politician won one of the highest offices. The

governors were all men trained in the politics of, in sucession, Baltimore City (Marvin Mandel), rural Caroline County (Harry Hughes), Baltimore City (William Donald Schaefer) -- for a total of 26 straight years.

The senators elected in that period were from small town Western Maryland (Charles McC. Mathias, J. Glenn Beall, Jr.) and Baltimore City (Paul Sarbanes, Barbara Mikulski).

But this year, with a Prince George's County executive and a Baltimore County state delegate running against each other for governor, the suburbs are bound to win.

Ah, but which suburb? There hasn't been a governor from the Washington suburbs since Reconstruction -- Oden Bowie. Washington suburbia is due, as gamblers like to say. More importantly, students of the politics of population growth say it'll be Glendening of P.G. County because the Washington suburbs are more dynamic than Baltimore city and county.

In 1990, for the first time, P.G. and Montgomery counties (henceforth they) had a combined population greater than the combined population of the two Baltimores (henceforth we). We lost population from 1980 to 1990. They grew by nearly a quarter million persons. In the primary election that year, they out-voted us by 27,000 votes.

Population-wise, things kept getting worse for us. Since 1990 we've been losing about 6,000 net population a year, and they've been gaining about 15,000 net population a year. So in this

year's primary -- hold it! bulletin!! surprise!!! -- we out-voted them by 16,000 votes.

What's going on here? One theory is that after years and years of saying they want to be in charge, now that they have the numbers and are actually capable of electing a governor, Washington suburbanites (or is the word "suburbanoids"?) are getting cold feet. They'd rather whine about Baltimore dominating state politics than take responsibility for running the state, themselves. So they don't turn out to vote.

That's my theory. In fairness, I should say there are other theories. One is that they don't want done to another of theirs what was done to poor Oden Bowie, which is have two of the most unattractive places on the East Coast named after him.

The P.G. executive, himself, is undeterred by that. He thinks Parris, Maryland, has a nice ring to it, even if Glendeningville doesn't.

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