Taylor takes on the governor Strong warning: Speaker says Glendening gives 'lip service' to better business climate.

April 14, 1996

CALL IT A political shot across the bow: House Speaker Casper R. Taylor has taken Gov. Parris N. Glendening to task for not doing enough to improve Maryland's business climate. In an opinion piece we published last Thursday, Mr. Taylor chided the governor for giving "lip service" to establishing a pro-business state. He warned of "truly tough times" if "we don't do more to jump-start Maryland's private-sector engine."

In the polite and proper world of State House politics, top Democratic legislators rarely offer such pointed public criticism of a Democratic governor.

Yet Mr. Taylor's tough words, while overstating the case against Mr. Glendening, reflect genuine frustration with the governor's incremental approach to altering the business climate. Mr. Taylor, a Cumberland conservative with a long pro-business record, wanted something dramatic from the governor -- an VTC income-tax cut and a law easing regulatory burdens. The governor did neither. Maryland's weak economy precluded a tax cut and Mr. Glendening opted for an executive order instead of a rigid law to deal with regulatory concerns. Mr. Taylor thinks this sends "mixed messages" and shows "lukewarm support" on business issues.

A good part of the House speaker's ire reflects political ambition. Mr. Taylor wants to be governor some day. He also has privately complained about the governor's clumsy legislative dealings and his failure to understand what it takes to improve corporate perceptions.

Now Mr. Taylor has warned the governor to shape up, or. . . A Taylor-Glendening primary is not out of the question. Mr. Glendening's narrow 1994 victory, his low standing in opinion polls and his lack of strong support among state and county politicians has led a number of Democrats to consider a challenge: Mr. Taylor, Baltimore County executive C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Montgomery County executive Douglas Duncan and Rep. Benjamin Cardin.

No one has defeated a first-term governor in a primary in nearly a half-century. But Democrats worry an unpopular incumbent could propel a Republican into the governorship with enough coattail power to cost Democrats their jobs as county executives, councilmen and state legislators. The survival factor is at work.

In the coming year, Mr. Taylor and other Democratic hopefuls must decide if they really want to confront the governor in 1998. The warning to Mr. Glendening is clear: Heed the critics' admonitions or face the consequences.

Pub Date: 4/14/96

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