GOP surprised by nomination for transportation post


January 18, 1995|By William F. Zorzi Jr. | William F. Zorzi Jr.,Sun Staff Writer

Coming today to a State House near you: The ever-changing, now all-inclusive Gov. Parris N. Glendening.

Since the September primary election, Mr. Glendening has been at war with Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey, her supporters and the rest of the GOP.

So, who does he nominate to be the Maryland secretary of transportation, one of the most powerful positions in state government?

David L. Winstead, lawyer, lobbyist, Republican.

But not just any card-carrying Republican. Mr. Glendening reached out to Montgomery County -- one of only three jurisdictions he carried in the Nov. 8 general election -- and anointed a GOP money raiser who until Dec. 10 was an officer of the Maryland Republican Party.

For the last four years, the Baltimore-born Mr. Winstead has been the third vice chairman of the state GOP -- a position he lost last month after deciding not to run again. (Not that he was asked.)

Mr. Winstead's affiliation with the Republicans has not been a one-shot deal. He was once a special assistant to former U.S. Sen. Charles McC. Mathias Jr., served on the Montgomery County Republican Central Committee, chaired the state party's finance committee and raised money for former U.S. Rep. Helen Delich Bentley's 2nd District re-election efforts.

Attempts to reach Mr. Winstead were unsuccessful, but a Glendening spokesman, Charles F. Porcari, offered a predictable response on the Republican appointee.

"The governor-elect appoints to his Cabinet those he feels are most qualified to serve the citizens of Maryland," Mr. Porcari said. "Any outside political affiliations are not taken into consideration. Qualifications and ability to serve are what the governor-elect is seeking."

Yet to some, Mr. Glendening's "Vision for Maryland" seems to have moved to the center -- or even to the right -- since his photo-finish win over Mrs. Sauerbrey, a hard-line Republican.

"I'm sure people from both sides might look askance at why would he nominate a Republican to what may be the most important position in the Cabinet, whose budget is huge and power is vast," said Howard A. Denis, a Montgomery County Republican who gave up a safe state Senate seat to be Mrs. Bentley's gubernatorial running mate in an unsuccessful primary bid.

"Obviously, Glendening only carried three subdivisions and he's got to protect his base, but it certainly is interesting that his first appointment from Montgomery County is a Republican -- and not someone who is a nominal member," said Mr. Denis, now counsel to the U.S. House of Representative's District of Columbia subcommittee.

Mr. Glendening's bipartisan embrace hasn't stopped there. This week he also nominated Lewis R. Riley, a Republican former state senator from Wicomico County, as agriculture secretary. Mr. Riley has been Gov. William Donald Schaefer's agriculture chief.

And Mr. Glendening appears to have given tacit approval to Mr. Schaefer's last-minute plum for Mrs. Bentley, the outgoing governor's old friend, in the form of a contract (with a $75,000-a-year cap) to be a state consultant on maritime issues.

Mrs. Bentley has been criticized by GOP regulars for taking a walk during the general election and not supporting Mrs. Sauerbrey over Mr. Glendening. Many Republicans believe Mrs. Bentley's support would have made all the difference in the governor's race, particularly given Mr. Glendening's thin 5,993-vote victory margin.

As for the Glendening-Winstead alliance, Mr. Denis, like many others of both parties, assumed that the link between the two men was the Greater Washington Board of Trade, the pro-business group that employed the secretary-designee as a lobbyist in Annapolis.

Nonetheless, Mr. Denis was surprised a couple of years ago to find Mr. Glendening, then the Prince George's County executive, at Mr. Winstead's Chevy Chase home for a Christmas party.

But he was not as surprised as Joyce L. Terhes, the state GOP chairwoman, when she discovered her 3rd vice-chairman's name on the letterhead of a March 29, 1993, fund-raising solicitation trumpeting the "Montgomery County Salute for Parris Glendening." Mr. Winstead was listed as a member of the salute's finance committee.

"I told him, 'David, this gives me great pause. Many people are very, very upset by this,' " said Ms. Terhes, who did not include him on her slate of candidates for party posts last month.

At the time, Ms. Terhes said, Mr. Winstead dismissed the listing as "a mistake," saying the letter was supposed to have listed the Bethesda law firm of Wilkes, Artis, Hedrick and Lane, where he is a partner.

In the firm, Mr. Winstead has practiced law with Norman M. Glasgow, who was influential in rallying Republicans behind Mr. Schaefer in 1990 and was rewarded with a number of state appointments.

The Democrat-controlled Maryland Senate still must approve Mr. Winstead's appointment, a vote that generally is a mere formality.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., long Mr. Glendening's political rival in Prince George's County, had only high praise for the secretary-designee -- at least until he was told of Mr. Winstead's GOP post.

"Really?" Mr. Miller said. "I didn't know that."

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