'The end of the ripple' Tribute: The late Lucille Maurer will be remembered for her distinguished service in state politics -- a career that began on a single vote.

The Political Game

July 09, 1996|By C. Fraser Smith | C. Fraser Smith,SUN STAFF

IN POLITICS, a ripple can bring a sea change. A single vote can speak as loudly as a landslide.

When Spiro T. Agnew resigned as governor in 1968 to become vice president of the United States, he set off a series of changes in the political landscape.

He was replaced as governor by House Speaker Marvin Mandel.

Soon after, Mandel named Montgomery County Sen. Blair Lee III Secretary of State.

The state Senate vacancy was filled by the late Victor Crawford, a delegate from Montgomery County.

And, on the strength of one vote, the Assembly seat he left was filled by Lucille Maurer of Silver Spring, a delegate to the state's Constitutional Convention, who was just then completing her second term on the county's elected school board.

Maurer, who died June 17, went on to serve 18 years in the Assembly, to revolutionize Maryland's method of paying for public education -- and then to be elected state treasurer by her colleagues in the House of Delegates.

"My wife was the end of the ripple," said Ely Maurer, her husband. "It turned out very well for my wife and perhaps for the state of Maryland, if I'm not being too presumptuous."

The vacant delegate post she filled was filled according to law by a vote of the county's 15-member Democratic Central Committee. On the first ballot, Maurer had seven votes and several other candidates split the remaining seven. The necessary 8th vote was cast by Richard Schifter, now special assistant and counselor to President Clinton for national security affairs, who was then the county's Democratic central committee chairman. He had withheld his vote in the first round, but cast it for Maurer.

On the strength of that vote, the woman known to her friends and colleagues as Lucy moved on to a long career in politics and public service. She became an expert in formulas for equitably financing public education.

Ambassador Schifter will preside at a memorial service for Lucille Maurer at 7 p.m. July 18 in the auditorium of the Inn and Conference Center, University College, on the University of Maryland campus at the junction of University Boulevard and Adelphi Road in College Park. Gov. Parris N. Glendening is to be one of the speakers.

2nd District Republicans get boost from Democrats

For the rest of this century at least, Republican candidates in Maryland's 2nd Congressional District may thank Democrats for an election-day cushion.

The favor came in the form of 18 precincts in north Anne Arundel County, ceded by Democratic members of Congress during a redistricting process in 1992 to former Rep. Helen Delich Bentley.

Though registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans in these neighborhoods, the voting there usually is quite conservative.

In 1994, these precincts went overwhelmingly for Bentley's successor, Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. While he was winning the rest of the 2nd District by about 63 percent, Ehrlich took the Arundel vote by better than 70 percent.

These precincts along the Mountain Road corridor contain fewer than 23,000 voters, but Ehrlich's camp thinks of them as the cherry on an increasingly conservative districtwide cake.

How could such a shift occur, one might ask? Wouldn't Democrats want to improve the likelihood of Democratic victory? They would, of course, unless their own re-election prospects were to be harmed.

Redistricting politics are intensely personal with incumbents adopting and abandoning constituents for personal advancement or survival. Party concerns become secondary -- thus a Republican or a Democrat could gain an advantage as part of a deal between candidates of different parties.

In this case, Bentley's Democratic friendships -- with Gov. William Donald Schaefer and other members of the congressional delegation -- enabled her to get the precincts she wanted. Former Rep. Tom McMillen, who had not endeared himself to some in the congressional delegation, was the odd man out. Squeezed into a new, Chesapeake Bay-straddling district with Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest, McMillen lost.

Bentley won, cobbling together a district most amenable to her future. Although she chose to give it all up in a race for governor, her legacy endures. A gift that keeps on giving, one might say.

Pub Date: 7/09/96

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