Candidate, manager go back a long, long way CAMPAIGN 1994 -- THE RACE FOR COMPTROLLER

November 04, 1994|By Marina Sarris | Marina Sarris,Sun Staff Writer

It's not often in politics that a campaign manager can tell you about the time the candidate's dog passed away or the science projects he did in school.

But the long-shot campaign of Republican Timothy R. Mayberry is far from ordinary.

His quest to be Maryland comptroller is being run with little fanfare and less money from the Washington County home he shares with his manager/spokeswoman/strategist.

Who happens to be his mother.

"That's off the record," said Dee Richards, a feisty former speech writer and political consultant. "I don't want to be known in my own career as the candidate's mother."

Well, her 38-year-old son isn't exactly wild about that kind of publicity either, but the price was right.

"I could go out and spend thousands and thousands of dollars hiring someone who would at best be mediocre," he said, "because I filed so late all the good ones were gone. Or I could get for free someone who is a former White House assistant press secretary."

L "Don't exaggerate my credentials," Ms. Richards interrupted.

"Who is a former speech writer for, who?" he said, correcting himself.

"Ford," she answered.

"Someone with extensive press credentials and extensive political credentials for free," he finished.

While other candidates are raising big bucks, employing hired guns and calling each other names, the team of Mayberry and Mother is quietly running one of the most idiosyncratic campaigns in the Free State.

She burns up the telephone lines From Page 1Bon his behalf, while he stumps at endless candidate forums. News media interviews are often joint affairs with both answering questions. He usually takes the lead while she prompts him with a detail here or there, in press secretary fashion.

Family teams are nothing new in Maryland politics -- in 1990 a gubernatorial candidate chose his wife as his running mate -- but mother-son teams are a bit of a novelty.

The teamwork paid off in the GOP primary in September when Mr. Mayberry, a banking consultant, surprised party regulars by beating Republican National Committeeman Richard P. Taylor.

He faces a much more formidable opponent Tuesday: incumbent Louis L. Goldstein. The 81-year-old Democrat has had a lock on the comptroller's office since his opponent was 2.

The Mayberry campaign is undaunted.

The candidate is shaking hands and handing out campaign literature. His mother is bending the ears of reporters, trying to drum up media interest in a race that has been eclipsed by the dogfight for governor.

In doing so, she draws upon her own journalistic pedigree. She is a former television news research director, and her father, the late Ray Richards, was a foreign correspondent.

As her son's press secretary, she tries to separate her political instincts from her maternal ones, but sometimes it doesn't work.

Like the afternoon she shared a story about his science projects. Mr. Mayberry, talking about his youthful dream of becoming a doctor, said he studied biology at George Washington University with an eye toward medical school. To save money, he decided to live with his parents in Montgomery County.

His mother interjected: "He would bring home his dead cats."

He: "That was lab homework. I had to."

She: "And what was the other creature?"

He (somewhat wearily): "I had to dissect all kinds of things."

She: "It was a sea creature of some sort."

He: "A fish."

She: "And we had these smelly formaldehyde things in the house."

Mr. Mayberry never made it to medical school. It turned out to be more than he could afford so he switched his sights. He got a job at a bank and entered a management training program.

He eventually landed a job at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation about five years ago. He said an offer came after he called the office of FDIC Chairman L. William Seidman, who knew his mother, to discuss the impending real estate crash. He was hired to go into failing banks and analyze their troubles.

He kept a hand in politics by volunteering on campaigns. In his mid-20s, he was assistant campaign manager for Helen Delich Bentley in her second run for Congress from Maryland's 2nd District. At least that's the way he and former campaign manager Bill Smith tell it.

Mrs. Bentley, who won the seat in 1984, remembers it differently. "He was an intern, he was a 'gofer.' I've never had an assistant campaign manager," she said.

While he was moving up the banking ladder, Mr. Mayberry had a few rough years.

The federal government filed a $858 lien against him in 1990, court records show. The lien, the result of a tax dispute, was dropped when a settlement was reached, he said.

His house in Olney was lost in a foreclosure in 1992 as a result, he said, of a difficult divorce proceeding.

Meanwhile, he was injured in a car accident, left the FDIC and was unable to work for about a year. He moved in with his parents in Boonsboro, opened a consulting business and taught horseback riding to handicapped children.

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