Incumbent Curran beats back opposition to win attorney general's race ELECTION 1994

November 09, 1994|By Marina Sarris | Marina Sarris,Sun Staff Writer Sun staff writers Rafael Alvarez and Holly Selby contributed to this report.

Democratic incumbent J. Joseph Curran Jr. won the slugfest for state attorney general, knocking out aggressive Republican challenger Richard D. Bennett late last night.

Meanwhile, the ultimate incumbent, state Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein, rolled to an easy victory. The 81-year-old Democrat won a record 10th term, proving that age and incumbency do not have to be drawbacks.

Attorney General Curran won 54 percent of the vote to Mr. Bennett's 46 percent.

"I'm humbled, gratified, elated and very proud," he told supporters at his Baltimore headquarters. "It was a tough race and a tough opponent, but we didn't back down."

The mood there was subdued most of the night but turned buoyant as late returns from Baltimore and Baltimore County showed him pulling ahead.

The two-term incumbent thanked his strongholds of Baltimore City and Montgomery and Prince George's counties, which gave him the bulk of his votes.

Meanwhile, an upbeat Mr. Bennett told his followers gathered at a downtown Baltimore hotel that he would not concede the election until this morning.

He said he had heard from Ellen Sauerbrey's gubernatorial campaign about some confusion over vote tallies in Baltimore. "I want to figure this thing out first," he said.

The race has been a surprisingly combative one, with accusations of political wrongdoing and tax irregularities. The negative tone was set by Mr. Bennett, 47, a former federal prosecutor who offered the GOP its best chance in decades of capturing that office.

Mr. Bennett sought to portray Mr. Curran as a weak crime-fighter who misused the "perks" of office. Among other things, he

accused Mr. Curran of using his state-provided bodyguard and car to ferry his family on out-of-state trips.

Mr. Curran, 63, denied wrongdoing. He said his wife had accompanied him on business trips to New York and Washington. She may have gone to a museum or shopping there, but he would have made personal financial allowances for it, he said. Mr. Curran also threw some punches, explaining, "I'm not going

to take a slam lying down."

He called attention to Mr. Bennett's tax problems. A defunct law firm that was run by Mr. Bennett and Michael E. Marr failed to pay thousands of dollars in federal taxes and penalties for six years. The government agreed in August to accept $2,000 from Mr. Bennett in exchange for erasing the entire debt.

Although the job does not involve much prosecution, both candidates competed for the title of "toughest on crime." Mr. Bennett tried to blame Mr. Curran for the crime rate, even though the state attorney general does not control front-line prosecutors, police or prisons.

The job's main duties are to provide legal advice to state government and to represent the state when criminals appeal their convictions.

For his part, Mr. Curran criticized Mr. Bennett's record on crime as U.S. attorney. The Republican plea-bargained 93 percent of his cases, more than his counterparts in Virginia and Washington, D.C., Mr. Curran pointed out.

In the comptroller's race, Mr. Goldstein overcame a spirited challenge from Republican Timothy R. Mayberry, a political newcomer half his age. The incumbent won 61 percent of the vote to Mr. Mayberry's 39 percent.

"People judged me on my record of performance," said Mr. Goldstein, who has been comptroller for 36 of his 50 years in elective office.

Mr. Mayberry, 38, ran a seriously underfinanced campaign, but he captured a greater vote percentage than Mr. Goldstein's Republican opponent in 1990.

Mr. Goldstein, who has held statewide office longer than anyone in Maryland history, said this term will be his final one.

He apparently was not hurt by a political embarrassment two weeks ago, when his deputy comptroller was charged with income tax evasion. He had the deputy's resignation within 24 hours.

Mr. Mayberry, a banking consultant from Washington County, suffered from a paltry campaign budget and low name recognition. He raised less than $20,000, too little to buy much in the way of radio spots.

With a $222,700 campaign chest, Mr. Goldstein could afford commercials touting his record for protecting the state's credit rating.


1,702 of 1,702 percincts -- 100%

J. Joseph Curran, D* ..... 678,662 .. 54%

Richard D. Bennett, R .... 586,772 .. 46%


1,702 of 1,702 -- 100%

Louis L. Goldstein, D* ..... 781,369 .. 61%

Timothy R. Mayberry, R ..... 498,802 .. 39%

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