Democrat Goldstein poised to take on 10th term as Maryland comptroller 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.

State Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein was well on his way to capturing a record 10th term last night, proving that age and incumbency do not have to be drawbacks.

Meanwhile, a possible upset was brewing in the slugfest for attorney general as Republican Richard D. Bennett held a slim lead over Democratic incumbent J. Joseph Curran Jr.

Comptroller Goldstein, an 81-year-old Democrat, was trouncing Republican Timothy R. Mayberry, a political newcomer half his age. With 46 percent of the precincts reporting, he was leading 56 percent to 44.

Mr. Mayberry, 38, ran a spirited but seriously underfinanced campaign against the popular incumbent, who has been comptroller for 36 of his 50 years in elective office.

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

"People judged me on my record of performance," said Mr. Goldstein, the longest-serving statewide office-holder in Maryland history. "People want someone they feel comfortable with."

In the race for attorney general, Mr. Bennett was leading Mr. Curran, 53 percent to 47 percent, with 45 percent of the state's 1,702 precincts reporting.

"It's been many, many years since a Republican has won attorney general, and we're hopeful," said Mr. Bennett, a former federal prosecutor who had the backing of several police organizations.

Their race has been a surprisingly combative one, complete with accusations of political wrongdoing and tax irregularities.

The negative tone was set by Mr. Bennett, 47, who offered the GOP its best chance in decades of capturing that office.

Mr. Bennett sought to portray the two-term incumbent 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, the Republican challenger faced more obstacles than Mr. Bennett.

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.

According to a poll last week, almost half the voters did not recognize his name, compared to just 6 percent who hadn't heard of Mr. Goldstein.

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

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