Roger Hayden's blame game

November 11, 1994

At a press conference two days ago, Baltimore County dTC Executive Roger B. Hayden blamed everyone but himself for his failed re-election bid against Democrat C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger. The Republican incumbent did offer one legitimate point in explaining his defeat -- that is, his government downsizing and layoffs of county workers cost him votes. Yet he was totally resistant to suggestions that he bore any responsibility for his loss.

Mr. Hayden's Nixonian press conference, and his election-night tirade against his opponent on live TV, underscored the incumbent's fatal flaw: a lack of personal appeal that left people unenthusiastic about him as their leader. In a season dominated by conservative Republicans urging fiscal restraint, Mr. Hayden should have strolled to victory. He had the record to match the public mood but little of the charisma that helps draw voters to politicians. Mr. Hayden bragged that being a non-pol was his strength. However, it's probably why we won't have him to kick around anymore.

Mr. Ruppersberger can be expected to govern as a conservative Democrat, though with the people skills his predecessor did not display. The seven-member County Council with which he'll work will be more politically experienced than the group chosen in 1990. As one of two councilmen returned to office -- and someone with the new executive's respect -- Republican Douglas B. Riley could emerge a leader on the panel.

Like the entire state legislature, Baltimore County's General Assembly delegation will see heavy turnover. Two-thirds of the county's next collection of House of Delegates members are newcomers, including the first African-Americans elected to a non-federal office from Baltimore County. Catonsville Del. Kenneth H. Masters, the House majority leader, fell on Tuesday, which means a loss of clout for the county. With the primary-election setbacks and resignations of more than a dozen county incumbents, the remaining veterans will be under heightened pressure to take care of the county's interests in Annapolis.

Finally, we note that the only county bond issue to have any trouble gaining passage was Question F, a $1 million borrowing ordinance for affordable housing. A publicity push by government and private groups helped a similar measure succeed in 1992, overcoming decades of bias against the housing issue. In this year of MTO, one might think the pro-bond groups would have made another push. They didn't, and Question F barely got through.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.