Glendening carried the black vote in Baltimore ELECTION 1994

November 10, 1994|By Eric Siegel and JoAnna Daemmrich | Eric Siegel and JoAnna Daemmrich,Sun Staff Writers Sun staff writer William F. Zorzi Jr. contributed to this article.

An overwhelming percentage of Baltimore's black voters supported Parris N. Glendening in Tuesday's gubernatorial contest, but white voters split their loyalties between the Democratic standard-bearer and Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey.

Voters in predominantly black precincts supported Mr. Glendening by margins as high as 16-1, but voters in some mostly white neighborhoods actually gave a slender majority to Mrs. Sauerbrey.

In one mostly black precinct just east of Green Mount Cemetery, for example, Mr. Glendening received 769 votes to just 48 for Mrs. Sauerbrey. But in a precinct in Highlandtown, a white, working-class community in Southeast Baltimore, Mrs. Sauerbrey garnered 125 votes compared to Mr. Glendening's 94.

Baltimore's voters -- like those in populous Prince George's and Montgomery counties -- were widely believed to be critical to the Glendening candidacy. Without a high turnout in Baltimore, and a large margin of support as well, the Democrat's chances to carry the state were viewed as nonexistent.

Clearly, Mr. Glendening did not present a consistent appeal to Baltimore voters.

In several Baltimore precincts surveyed by The Sun, local candidates for the Maryland General Assembly, despite only token opposition, outpolled the Democratic Party standard-bearer. Mrs. Sauerbrey's inroads in the largely Democratic city were the result of the popularity of her tax cut and school voucher plan among some white middle-class voters and Mr. Glendening's lack of charisma, observers said yesterday.

"When you try to walk the middle road, it doesn't excite people as much. It's obvious she [Mrs. Sauerbrey] really touched a chord," said Dr. Patricia Florestano, a professor of government at the University of Baltimore.

Southeast Baltimore politicians attributed the relatively poor showing of Mr. Glendening in some mostly white precincts to the lingering effects of withering primary campaign ads by popular Democratic Sen. American Joe Miedusiewski.

Another factor was the same white middle-class discontent that helped Mrs. Sauerbrey carry 21 of 23 rural and suburban counties across the state. "They feel their voices aren't being heard," said state Sen. Cornell N. Dypski, a Southeast Baltimore Democrat who went door-to-door for Mr. Glendening.

Still, Larry S. Gibson, Mr. Glendening's city campaign coordinator, said slightly more than 50 percent of white city voters cast their ballots for the three-term Prince George's County executive -- above the state average of the low 40s. And 90 precent of black city voters went for Mr. Glendening, Mr. Gibson said.

Overall, Mr. Glendening got 109,035 votes in Baltimore to 36,909 for Mrs. Sauerbrey. There are about 33,000 registered Republicans in the city compared to 282,000 Democrats.

Election officials confirmed yesterday that voter turnout in the city was 43 percent -- considerably below the 56 percent they had initially reported early Tuesday night.

But Mr. Gibson said the critical figure was that Baltimore gave Mr. Glendening a nearly 73,000-vote margin over Ms. Sauerbrey -- significantly greater than Prince George's' 60,000-vote margin or Montgomery's 42,000-vote margin. "Margins are what win elections," he said.

"We provided the margin of victory should the numbers hold up after the absentee ballots are counted," said Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, who strongly supported Mr. Glendening and worked with Mr. Gibson, his top political adviser, to get out the vote.

But ministers, black politicians and community activists, who spent all day Tuesday knocking on doors and lining up rides for voters, said that both the margin and turnout could have been greater. Too many voters in the neighborhoods that lie beyond Baltimore's Inner Harbor didn't fully understand the city's stake in the election or were uninspired by Mr. Glendening.

"The thing is, we know she would be bad for black people. The question is, how would he be good?" said Delegate-elect Clarence M. Mitchell IV, from West Baltimore's 44th District.

The fact that Mr. Glendening was not from Baltimore also hurt. "One of the things we had to overcome was the idea of a non-Baltimore-based governor," said state Sen. Larry Young, a West Baltimore Democrat.

Council President Mary Pat Clarke, who handed out leaflets to 2,000 voters at Northwestern High School, said Mrs. Sauerbrey's school voucher plan caught the attention of some voters.

"I think we all successfully argued that Glendening's governorship would benefit the city, but you couldn't impart the feeling, the passion as much as you wanted to," she said.

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