Executive defends Glendening critique Bainum says his goal is only to strengthen Md. Democratic Party

September 05, 1996|By C. Fraser Smith | C. Fraser Smith,SUN STAFF

The Montgomery County businessman who will be host of a critique tonight of Gov. Parris N. Glendening's performance said yesterday he has no goals beyond protecting the welfare of Maryland and the strength of its Democratic Party.

"I really do think we would take a step backward if Republicans take over the state," said Stewart Bainum Jr., chief executive officer of Manor Care Inc., the nursing home and hotel chain based in Gaithersburg.

At the same time, Bainum rejected a charge leveled by Glendening yesterday that his opposition to the governor is driven by the interests of Manor Care.

Bainum wants road improvements along a three-mile stretch of Route 28 in front his new Gaithersburg headquarters -- but he said the governor already has approved the first stage of work there.

The governor's accusation came after Bainum and others said they feared Glendening's low standing in the polls and lengthening list of controversies could put his re-election in jeopardy. They are to meet tonight at Bainum's Chevy Chase home.

Bainum said he agrees it is too early to dump Glendening. "We're not going to decide anyone's future," he said.

Two other businessmen who were invited to the meeting -- H. Furlong Baldwin, chairman of Mercantile Bankshares Corp. of Baltimore, and Calman "Buddy" Zamoiski, a Baltimore businessman and president of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra -- were also accused by the governor of attacking out of self-interest.

Baldwin, he said, wants an income tax cut. Zamoiski wants a new symphony hall.

Neither returned a reporter's telephone calls yesterday or Tuesday.

Bainum, a former state legislator who pulled out of a race for governor at the last minute in 1994, said he decided to organize the meeting after months of informal conversations

with business and political associates. He said he is not certain who will attend. Some elected officials may be reluctant to publicly oppose Glendening -- whose allies have suggested it would be "treasonous" to show up.

One of the governor's most implacable critics, Prince George's County Executive Wayne K. Curry, said he will not attend the meeting. Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan is expected to be on hand.

House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr., another of the governor's frequent opponents, has said he is undecided -- as did Baltimore County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger III. Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke has said he believes the governor's critics might be well-advised to relent, at least temporarily.

"Elected officials have a responsibility to their constituents. They have less job security than I have," Bainum said.

As for the suggestion that the interests of Manor Care are motivating him, Bainum said those interests were being addressed favorably by the governor well before the meeting was called. He said he had urged that the state accelerate acquisition of land -- and for money to install the wider road.

The governor apparently agrees the work is necessary. In a July 10 letter to Duncan, Glendening said, "I am pleased to inform you we will be able to accelerate the project as you requested. The economic health and stability of our state is essential."

Glendening said tonight's meeting is inspired, not only by unhappy businessmen but by "gubernatorial wannabes."

Bainum was asked whether he fits both categories:

"I'm focused on my business," he said. "It's enough to keep me busy and I'm trying to do a good job as a parent. But I still have the itch for public service. I'd like to contribute in a meaningful way and to make a difference."

Pub Date: 9/05/96

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