Glendening's style: precision, planning CAMPAIGN 1994 -- THE RACE FOR GOVERNOR

October 28, 1994|By Robert Timberg | Robert Timberg,Sun Staff Writer

The dust had barely settled on Election Day 1990 when Parris N. Glendening, affirmed by the voters for a third term as Prince George's County executive, knew the time had finally come to take his ambitions onto more challenging terrain.

Typically, he left nothing to chance. In the next four years he put together a campaign organization that has marched with military precision across Maryland's political landscape, its objective the State House.

Along the way, the Glendening organization has set a new standard for Maryland politics in terms of discipline, fund raising, planning and execution. Not to mention attention to detail, which the wooing of Darryl A. Jones amply demonstrates.

More than a year ago, as Mr. Glendening tells the story, Mr. Jones was preparing to step down as the head of the Maryland Fraternal Order of Police, an organization that represents nearly 14,000 law enforcement officers across the state.

Before he was able to submit his resignation, he received a call from Mr. Glendening, whose office was in the county government complex in Upper Marlboro, not far from FOP headquarters. Mr. Glendening's message to Mr. Jones was brief. Stay on another year. Introduce me to the local lodge presidents, help me getthe FOP endorsement. Mr. Jones, who had worked && with Mr. Glendening as head of the Prince George's FOP lodge, agreed to do so.

In April, when the race for the Democratic nomination for governor was still competitive, Mr. Glendening won the backing of the FOP. Mr. Jones cast a key vote on the procedural motion that cleared the way for the endorsement.

There were other courtships, more details to attend to, constant planning. On primary day, Sept. 13, his army in fighting trim, Mr. Glendening rolled over three reasonably strong opponents, flattening his closest rival by 36 percentage points.

He was now ready to finish the job, to unleash his battle-tested troops on the lone obstacle between him and the Governor's Mansion -- U.S. Rep. Helen Delich Bentley. Except that when he peered across the partisan divide someone else was brandishing the GOP standard.

Ellen R. Sauerbrey, the Republican leader of the Maryland House. Down 13 points in the polls just days before the primary, she never seemed a threat -- until election night, when she beat Mrs. Bentley by an eye-popping 14 points.

Ellen Sauerbrey. The one thing Mr. Glendening didn't plan on.

A role for government

To his critics, Mr. Glendening, 52, is a latter-day New Deal liberal whose political philosophy entails big government and throwing money at social problems. His detractors further insist that he is a captive of the special interest groups who have endorsed him and contributed heavily to his campaign.

"I think he's well-intentioned," said Republican John A. Cade, an Anne Arundel state senator, "but I don't think he will have the discipline required to take Maryland forward in a responsible way in terms of revenues, expenditures and economic development." Glendening's champions see him differently, as a proven leader who has shepherded an ethnically diverse county through good times and bad for more than a decade, displaying fiscal restraint, expanding business opportunity and offering thoughtful approaches to difficult urban problems.

"He is a man who has a very clear vision for Maryland, and that vision includes creating jobs," said state Del. Maggie L. McIntosh, a Baltimore Democrat. "He is not a liberal. He is conservative on fiscal issues. . . . This is a very steady hand that is ready to lead us into the next century."

Mr. Glendening, without question, believes in government. As a student at Florida State University, he studied it, earning a doctorate in government and urban politics in 1967. That same ** year, he began teaching it as a professor at the University of Maryland College Park.

For the past quarter-century, he has been a practitioner as well. In 1972, he was elected to Hyattsville's City Council; in 1974, to the Prince George's County Council, serving eight years, two as chairman.

In 1982, he was elected county executive for the first time.

Some detractors say he's been lucky, others that he never faced tough opposition. Such carping pales considerably, if not totally, in the face of a striking political fact. In all his races in Prince George's County, primary and general, he never lost a precinct.

To Mr. Glendening, government can and should be a positive force in the lives of its citizens. He has been an activist county executive and seems determined to continue that activism as governor.

His top priority is education. Reared in poverty, he credits education with his success. Unlike Mrs. Sauerbrey, who would give $2,000 taxpayer-funded vouchers to parents who send their children to private schools, he promises to beam additional resources at public schools. In the process, he wants to reduce the reliance of education funding on property taxes.

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