Gubernatorial must be decided by up to 50,000 absentee ballots Glendening, Sauerbrey finish in dead heat

GOP takes control of both House, Senate Sarbanes, Curran win on day of neck-and-neck races ELECTION 1994

November 09, 1994|By Robert Timberg and Doug Birch | Robert Timberg and Doug Birch,Sun Staff Writers Sun staff writers Peter Jensen, Kate Shatzkin, Thomas W. Waldron and William F. Zorzi Jr. contributed to this article.

Democrat Parris N. Glendening and Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey split the vote almost precisely in half yesterday, making the election of Maryland's next governor dependent on absentee ballots that won't be counted until tomorrow.

Mrs. Sauerbrey, the minority leader of the Maryland House, held a narrow lead over the Prince George's County executive through most of the evening and wound up carrying all but three of the state's 24 subdivisions.

But Mr. Glendening -- as anticipated -- ran so strongly in populous Baltimore City and Prince George's and Montgomery counties that he moved in front at the end, by a scant 6,191 vote margin out of nearly 2.4 million votes cast. As many as 50,000 absentee ballots remain to be counted.

Yesterday's gubernatorial contest was the closest in percentage terms since 1934, when Albert C. Ritchie, the incumbent Democrat, was defeated by Republican Harry W. Nice. The closest race in this century occurred in 1919 when Mr. Ritchie beat Mr. Nice by a paltry 165 votes.

Mrs. Sauerbrey, ebullient and defiant, yelled, "Parris, surrender" as supporters early this morning cheered her performance against the better-financed Mr. Glendening, who also had the Democratic 2-to-1 advantage in voter registration working for him.

Mr. Glendening was in no mood to capitulate. "We're going to win this," he told his enthusiasts after midnight. "There's no doubt in my mind."

Meanwhile, Joyce L. Terhes, the state Republican party chairwoman, said she feared possible voter fraud and dispatched GOP lawyers to the Baltimore election board to report her concerns.

Her fears centered on one city polling place that she said was late in reporting its vote totals. Though citing no evidence, she said she worried that Democrats had delayed reporting "to magically give Parris a margin" of victory.

At the polling station, in a firehouse in the 1300 block of Guilford Ave., a reporter around 1 a.m. found two firefighters from Truck 16 playing Scrabble. A third firefighter was watching the election returns on television.

The three voting machines, in the large main room of the station were locked. The results were taken earlier, after the polls closed, the firefighters said. There was no immediate explanation for why the vote totals had not been reported earlier.

In other races, Paul S. Sarbanes, a liberal Democrat, easily won a fourth term in the U.S. Senate, defeating Republican Bill Brock, a former Tennessee congressman and senator.

Though pleased with his victory, Mr. Sarbanes was disappointed that an apparent takeover of the Senate by Republicans would deny him the powerful chairmanship of the banking committee.

Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein, 81, won his 10th term as the state's chief tax collector, defeating Republican Timothy Mayberry, a banking consultant.

In the attorney general's race, Democrat J. Joseph Curran Jr. beat his Republican challenger, former U.S. Attorney Richard Bennett, for a third term in the post.

In the struggle for the state's only open congressional seat, Republican Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., 36, of Timonium coasted past the Democrat, Gerry L. Brewster of Towson, 37. They were running for the slot being vacated by Republican Rep. Helen Delich Bentley, who ran unsuccessfully in the GOP primary for governor.

In the 6th District, the freshman Republican, Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, turned aside a well-financed challenge from Democrat Paul Muldowney, who served two terms in the state legislature.

The state's remaining incumbent congressmen easily won re-election.

No matter how the governor's race turns out, Mrs. Sauerbrey's spirited campaign and the voters' response to her message of lower taxes and smaller, more efficient government is likely to set the state on a more conservative course.

Once it became clear that a winner would not emerge last night, Mrs. Sauerbrey thanked the volunteers who had spent 18 months bringing her from 3 percent name recognition in opinion polls to the threshold of victory.

A supporter yelled to Mrs. Sauerbrey, "Don't let them steal it from you."

She looked down and smiled. "We aren't gonna let them," she said. "We've carried a message that's lit a spark across the state. . . . I am confident that right is going to prevail and we are going to win."

Brilliant sunshine drew crowds to the polls in most sections of the state, nudging the turnout of registered voters up to 58 percent statewide. In 1990, it was 52 percent. Despite a massive get-out-the-vote campaign by Democrats in Baltimore, though, the city turnout was 43 percent -- far short of predictions earlier in the day.

In the other congressional contests, Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin won a fifth term over Republican Robert Ryan Tousey in the 3rd District. Rep. Kweisi Mfume won his fifth term, beating Republican Kenneth Kondner in the 7th District.

In the 5th District, Rep. Steny Hoyer, seeking his eighth term, defeated Republican Donald Devine, who served as director of the Office of Personnel Management under former President Ronald Reagan.

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