Both Parties Are Chanting G-o-t-v

THE POLITICAL GAME

October 26, 1994|By William F. Zorzi Jr. | William F. Zorzi Jr.,Sun Staff Writer

G-O-T-V.

Get Out The Vote.

With less than two weeks to go in what polls show is a close race for governor, both Democrats and Republicans have tattooed these four letters on the backs of their hands.

After all the rhetoric and television ads, the fund-raisers and rallies, getting voters to the polls -- and, of course, getting them to vote the right way -- will be the No. 1 factor in determining the outcome Nov. 8.

But some of Baltimore's politicos -- both bosslets and muldoons, those usually happy, loyal camp followers -- are beginning to grouse over the efforts to turn out city voters for Parris N. Glendening.

By now, the Democratic political operatives' scheming, plotting, prodding and muscling should be obvious.

The poll assignments should be made, orders for sample ballots placed (if not printed already) and the, uh, field-expense money agreed upon.

Some of the b'hoys say privately that little work appears to have been done. Or if it has been, they've not been made privy to most of it.

At this rate, said one city legislator, "You should be prepared to write on election night that the best-financed gubernatorial candidate in the history of Maryland, who had this thing in the bag, let it flutter away, because he didn't know how to finesse the Baltimore vote."

Not to worry, said Kathleen M. "Kate" Head, the newly appointed executive director of the Maryland Democratic Party.

"There's a lot going on; it's just not in your face," said Ms. Head, spokeswoman for Campaign '94, the party's coordinated campaign. It will spend $500,000 on G-O-T-V statewide, mostly in Baltimore City and Prince George's and Montgomery counties.

Ms. Head, a newcomer to Maryland, declared: "It's a pretty big machine we're building for election day -- the biggest the city's seen in recent years, perhaps ever. We'll have universal coverage of every precinct, every polling place, every Democratic phone and every Democratic household."

Asked about inducements for Election Day workers, Ms. Head replied, "plenty of sandwiches, plenty of sandwiches." As for the question of Election Day walk-around money trickling down to political organizations, she said: "That would be in gross violation of state election laws."

Right.

Mr. Glendening's followers pride themselves on organization and control -- which has served him well in Prince George's County, where he was elected three times as executive, and elsewhere in the state, where his primary win showed the fruits of their labors.

And the Glendenings are depending on Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and his political guru-adviser Larry S. Gibson to deliver the city, where just 27 percent of registered voters showed up for the Sept. 13 primary.

The grumblers say little of their efforts are visible, aside from a couple of rallies coming up and suggestions that Mayor Schmoke will take to the radio airwaves soon to urge city voters to the polls for Mr. Glendening.

Counters Ms. Head: "There's a lot of grinding organizational work [being done], not a lot of bells and whistles."

The Republicans, too, have launched a G-O-T-V effort, though nothing on the scale of the Dems.

"We have an extensive grass roots organization throughout the state, which has been in place since the primary and which has grown by leaps and bounds in the general election," said Carol L. Hirschburg, an campaign aide to Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey.

"While we'll be relying heavily on our organization to get out the vote, our people are already incredibly motivated," she said. "Sauerbrey supporters would walk over hot coals to work for her on election day."

Which is just what the Democrats know -- and fear.

Nevertheless, they are putting the best face on the race, wishfully saying that Mrs. Sauerbrey already has peaked in popularity.

But they are still worried about the outcome -- a first for the party in a gubernatorial race in 28 years.

"If I wake up on election day and it's raining, I'm going back to bed -- it's over," said 2nd District City Councilman Anthony J. Ambridge, referring to the prospect of the heavens providing the greatest threat to G-O-T-V.

"I'm praying for rain," Ms. Hirschburg said. "Sleet, actually."

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