Goldstein will run for 11th term Wife's death played major role in decision by Md. comptroller

'He's just such a fixture'

Political career dates to winning election as legislator in 1938

June 20, 1996|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,SUN STAFF

Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein, the Cal Ripken of Maryland politics, says he will seek an astonishing 11th consecutive four-year term as the state's chief fiscal officer in 1998.

"People say, 'Louie, we'd like for you to run again for comptroller,' " said the 83-year-old Goldstein. "Sure, I'll be running again."

Two years ago, Goldstein said the 1994 campaign would be his last.

But he said this week that the death of his wife, Hazel, in April helped him decide to run again. He said that in the past few years, as her health failed, he was compelled to be home more often with the woman he called his best friend and adviser.

Since her death, he said he has had "a lot of time I wouldn't have normally."

Goldstein would enter the race as a strong favorite.

Even the head of the state Republican Party all but conceded the race to Goldstein, barring unforeseen developments between now and the 1998 election.

"I absolutely think if he runs again, he will get elected as long as he runs," said GOP Chairwoman Joyce Lyons Terhes. "He's just such a fixture in Maryland politics."

In past elections, Goldstein has done little more than put his name on the ballot and go out and meet the voters. He raises small amounts of money and did polling for the first time in 1994.

He easily survived a hard-hitting challenge from an obscure opponent, James B. Moorhead, in the Democratic primary in 1994. He went on to pull in 61 percent of the vote -- remarkable in what was a good year for Republicans -- in the general election against newcomer Timothy R. Mayberry.

Goldstein, a former Maryland legislator, has been in state public office since 1939 except for a five-year break to serve in the Marines in World War II. He was elected to his first term as comptroller in 1958.

He said his age -- he would be 85 on Election Day -- could well be an issue when the 1998 campaign heats up. But he pointed out that hasn't hurt U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond, a South Carolina Republican who is seeking another six-year term at 93.

Age is a state of mind, Goldstein said.

"I see people who are 40 years of age who are old," he said. "Each individual has to judge him or herself based on their metabolism, how they feel, their interest in things."

State Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. said he has heard people suggest that Goldstein "has slowed down a bit."

"If he's slowing down, he's still better by far than any three or four persons trying to do that job," said Miller, a Prince George's County Democrat.

In an interview in his high-ceilinged office in the Louis L. Goldstein Treasury Building, Goldstein said he is healthy and feels good. He said he walks or swims every day, often ducking out for a brisk two-mile walk to the Annapolis waterfront and back.

He spends a lot of time out of his office, appearing at seemingly countless ribbon-cuttings, political fund-raisers and community events across the state.

And each day brings a new stack of messages from Marylanders who call him with any and all of their problems, whether they're related to his primary role as tax collector or not.

"They call me when they don't know who else to call," Goldstein said with a smile.

Pub Date: 6/20/96

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