When Maryland Republicans rejected Rep. Helen Delich Bentley as their standard bearer for the governorship, they also forfeited the opportunity to nominate a strong candidate to challenge the state's nine-term incumbent comptroller, Louis L. Goldstein. Richard Taylor, a lawyer and Republican National Committeeman, was closely tied to Mrs. Bentley. As a consequence, he lost the primary to Timothy R. Mayberry, a banking consultant from Boonsboro.
Mr. Mayberry, 38, has worked at several area banks and as a regulator with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. His first campaign for statewide office features a number of recommendations in the operation of the comptroller's office that he claims could result in as much as $200 million in savings for the state. Yet these recommendations have already been considered by the comptroller's office. Some have been implemented; others were simply not cost-effective.
For his part, Mr. Goldstein, at 81, retains most of his legendary energy. He also maintains a firm hand on his office. When questions arose about the personal tax liabilities of a long-time deputy, Mr. Goldstein lost no time in asking him to resign. This appears to be an aberration in an office staff that is widely regarded as well-managed and efficient.
After 36 years in office, Mr. Goldstein is still feisty and independent enough to be a presence to reckon with on the Board of Public Works, which approves hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts. His fiscally conservative instincts are an important check and balance on that body.
Mr. Goldstein also deserves credit for jealously guarding Maryland's valued Triple-A bond rating. He has come under some criticism recently for inaccurate revenue forecasts (an inexact science, at best) and for computer problems that slowed processing of income-tax returns. On the whole, however, his office has been ahead of the federal government in modernizing computer capability.
After nine terms, it would seem that an aging incumbent would be easy pickings in a year when voters are clamoring for change. It is a tribute to the careful management of his office and to his legendary political skills -- and a testament to the Republican Party's inability to come up with a formidable candidate of their own -- that Louis L. Goldstein earns our endorsement for yet another term as comptroller.