Race issues dog contest for governor CAMPAIGN 1994

October 30, 1994|By Michael Ollove and Doug Birch | Michael Ollove and Doug Birch,Sun Staff Writers Sun staff writers Ellen Gamerman and Norris P. West contributed to this article.

With the end of a hotly contested campaign for governor only 10 days away, the emotionally charged subject of race cropped up in a variety of ways yesterday.

Democratic candidate Parris N. Glendening got an "endorsement" he didn't want from the Ku Klux Klan. Ellen R. Sauerbrey appealed for black support. And charges surfaced again about what some claim are efforts to suppress the black voter turnout in Baltimore.

In Annapolis, Mr. Glendening, the Prince George's County executive, condemned a poorly attended Klan rally taking place blocks away.

In Mr. Glendening's county, Mrs. Sauerbrey, the minority leader of the House of Delegates who is the GOP candidate, appeared with about two dozen black supporters and said that her plan to hack away at high taxes and big government has appeal beyond white suburban voters.

"Government can't be a nanny that looks after people forever," she said at a Largo shopping mall. "The best social program is an intact family and a job."

The latest Mason-Dixon poll, released Oct. 18, found the two candidates six points apart. Mr. Glendening, who led 48 percent to 42 percent with 10 percent undecided, trailed Mrs. Sauerbrey everywhere except Montgomery County, Prince George's See County and Baltimore.

Yesterday, Mr. Glendening sought to retain urban voters as Mrs. Sauerbrey sought defections.

"Look across the country," Mr. Glendening told about 500 people at an anti-Klan rally at First Baptist Church in Annapolis. "There is a wave of divisiveness, of mean-spiritedness, a wave that says, 'I've got mine, I don't care about yours.' . . . I want the history books to read that in 1994, there was a wave of mean-spiritedness, but it stopped when it hit the borders of Maryland."

TTC About 35 Klansmen applauded an "endorsement" of Mr. Glendening at the Klan rally. "I know if Parris Glendening can do for Maryland what he has done for PG County, Maryland will be in great shape," one robed Klansman said.

"Maryland must say no to the Klan," Mr. Glendening said. "Maryland must say no to any outsiders who would come in and try to repress the African-American vote."

He also condemned a proposal by Ross Z. Pierpont, a perennial Republican candidate in Maryland, to put security guards at Baltimore polling places to prevent fraud. Democrats say Dr. Pierpont's independent political action committee, the Knights and Dames of Maryland, intends to harass and intimidate black voters.

Mrs. Sauerbrey, who attended festivities preceding the University of Maryland's football game yesterday, was asked by reporters about Dr. Pierpont's alleged attempt to intimidate black voters.

Friday, Mrs. Sauerbrey said she did not disapprove of the plan to hiresecurity guards to monitor voting in Baltimore, as outlined by a reporter. Asked again yesterday, she said she was not so sure.

"I would want to think about it," she said. "I don't want us in any way, shape or form to discourage or look like we're discouraging people from voting."

A low Baltimore turnout could be crucial to Mrs. Sauerbrey's chances in the Nov. 8 election. In the polls, she leads Mr. Glendening among white voters but trails him by a 10-1 ratio among blacks.

Unlike some GOP leaders, Mrs. Sauerbrey deliberately avoided criticizing Dr. Pierpont's PAC. But Joyce L. Terhes, the state GOP chairwoman, angrily denounced the physician.

"I'm livid, I really am," Ms. Terhes said yesterday. "You have a perennial candidate in Maryland who's never won an election, who does anything to get attention. . . . I've just had it. This is just inexcusable."

Dr. Pierpont's plan was also condemned yesterday by officials with the Baltimore branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, who said it was an ugly effort to help Mrs. Sauerbrey.

"We see this as a form of intimidation against some voters," said Rodney Orange, president of the branch. He ridiculed Dr. Pierpont's insistence that his security force was intended to prevent fraud at the polls.

"If he's so concerned about voter fraud, why isn't he going to Montgomery County?" asked Mr. Orange. "Why's he just in Baltimore City?"

Mr. Orange said he would ask Baltimore State's Attorney Stuart O. Simms for an investigation. Former Maryland Gov. Harry Hughes, chair man of the state's Democratic Party, has already sent letters to city, state and federal prosecutors urging them to investigate.

Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke added his voice to the denunciations yesterday. Speaking through a spokesman, he recalled a 1992 allegation that New Jersey Republicans had tried to hold down black turnout to help elect Christine Todd Whitman governor there.

"It looks like the Republican Party [of Maryland] admires more about New Jersey than Governor Whitman's tax cut gimmick," Mr. Schmoke said.

David Blumberg, chairman of Baltimore's Republican Party, also criticized Dr. Pierpont's decision to deploy his force selectively in Baltimore. But he said the subject was getting more attention than it deserved.

Those who contributed to the PAC were angered by the criticism of it. "I don't know where Harry Hughes gets off claiming we're going to do something nasty," said Mary S. Dibley, the treasurer of Knights and Dames of Maryland and a political supporter of Mr. Pierpont.

"We're trying to help anybody, Democrat or Republican, to try to get elected . . . and also to protect the security of the ballot on Election Day. Is that such a crime, to make sure people really claim that they are who they are and not using any fictitious names? I've lived a good honest life. I'm 79 years old. I'm not about to do anything dirty."

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