From high energy to steely deliberation

January 16, 1995|By John W. Frece | John W. Frece,Sun Staff Writer

Maryland is about to move from "Do it now" to "Do it cautiously."

Parris Nelson Glendening, the 52-year-old former Prince George's County executive, will become Maryland's 59th governor Wednesday. In replacing William Donald Schaefer, 73, he will usher in a style of governance as different as a task force study is from a temper tantrum.

Gone in the generational exchange will be the hotblooded impatience and personal passion Mr. Schaefer has brought to state issues.

In its place will be the cool, steely deliberation of Mr. Glendening, a part-time college professor who revels in the technical minutia of government policy and who patiently weighs each step for how it fits into his politically calculated four- and eight-year calendars.

"I liken myself in some ways to the Eisenhower presidency," Mr. Glendening said in a pre-inaugural interview last week. "By that, I mean that after the turmoil of the Roosevelt-Truman years, people wanted a more stable, somewhat low key, simply get the job done-type presidency.

"As you know, the Eisenhower era was quite successful . . . certainly in terms of public support," he said.

Just as the high-energy activism of Governor Schaefer and former Gov. Marvin Mandel bracketed the more low-key terms of Harry R. Hughes, so the tenures of Mr. Hughes and Mr. Glendening are likely to be viewed as slower, more deliberative bookends to Mr. Schaefer's often fiery eight years. The shift reflects a public that seems constantly to tire of what it has and to want something different.

"After the turmoil of change [in November's election], and the recession, and the conflicts, and the personality style of the last eight years, I believe most legislators and certainly most Marylanders are going to be pleased to see my style, which is much different," Mr. Glendening predicted.

"It does tend to be more policy-oriented, more deliberative, more long range. . . . I am a consensus builder. I don't go into these death struggles. I recognize clearly I don't have a monopoly on truth," he said.

Maryland's new governor shares several traits with President Clinton. Both are Democrats and new age technocrats. Both are married to lawyers whom they consider among their most important political advisers. (Frances Hughes Glendening, a legal adviser to the Federal Election Commission, heads her husband's transition committee.)

And both have teen-age children.

The new governor said he, like many professionals these days, is determined to strike a balance between work and family considerations. He said he intends to spend two to three nights a week at home with his family, as well as every other weekend and holidays.

A world changed

Mr. Glendening takes the reins of a government in a world changed, in which continued economic prosperity is no longer a certainty and in which society's most intractable problems seem to defy government remedies.

Unlike Mr. Schaefer, who stormed into Annapolis in 1987 with an ambitious agenda, a fat treasury and a huge mandate from the voters, Mr. Glendening arrives with a modest list of first-year goals, a tight budget that he knows he will have to trim and a skin-of-the-teeth electoral victory that was the closest in Maryland since 1919.

Even as he laid plans for his inauguration, hired staff and selected Cabinet secretaries, the Democratic governor-elect was distracted by the expense and uncertainty created by a legal challenge to the election by his defeated Republican opponent, Ellen R. Sauerbrey.

An Anne Arundel County judge dismissed Mrs. Sauerbrey's challenge Friday, and she announced yesterday that she was abandoning plans for appeals. As a result, Mr. Glendening can for the first time focus exclusively on the task of leading the state to the brink of, and perhaps into, the 21st century.

When he takes the oath of office at noon Wednesday in the Senate chamber, Mr. Glendening will become the first Maryland governor from the Washington suburbs in nearly 125 years. The change reflects the migration of political power in Maryland from Baltimore, the state's biggest city, to the fast-growing suburbs.

Three major promises

Mr. Glendening campaigned for governor on three major promises: to improve the business climate and job development, to make communities safer from crime, and to improve the quality of public education.

His first year in office, he said last week, will be devoted to laying the foundation to achieve those goals. But he said no one should judge prematurely whether he has been successful. "Our intention is to take enough time to do things really right," he said. "To me, that means you don't get stampeded by editorial writers or columnists who say, 'What have you done in your first 100 days, or in your first session?' "

Mr. Clinton did that to his own detriment, Mr. Glendening said, adding, "I'm absolutely not going to make that mistake."

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