Into the great big battle for a 2nd District U.S. congressional seat, between Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and Connie Galiazzo DeJuliis, comes Marie Gurovich, a Dundalk housewife who merely wants her anonymity back.
She hopes to get it back after the election, when they stop showing those political commercials in which Gurovich, 33, talks of her Steelworker husband, Charles, and how he hurt his back, and how Ehrlich sat in her living room, practically in tears, and got her assistance when the Steelworkers union let her down.
"All that stuff is correct," Gurovich was saying the other day, while tending her two young children in her living room. "I called the Dundalk Eagle when my husband got hurt, because we couldn't pay our bills, and I didn't know what to do. And they told me to call Mr. Ehrlich, and he came down my house within two hours that same day. Within two hours, I'm telling you.
"I was crying. My husband's very emotional, and he was crying. He's the kind of guy who cries at sad TV commercials. And then Mr. Ehrlich's eyes were getting watery, he felt so bad for us. He gave me phone numbers to get diapers and food, and he said he would help us. And that's what's in the TV commercial."
Ehrlich offered help in March, after Charles Gurovich's accident at work. Gurovich, 53, is a welder with Tate Andale Co., in Lansdowne. He was lifting a heavy bar and slipped three discs in his back.
It put him out of work and emptied the family's small savings, already depleted when the couple's second child arrived months earlier. As a dues-paying member of United Steelworkers of America for the past 20 years, Gurovich appealed for financial aid there -- but got nowhere -- whereupon we arrive at his wife's call to Ehrlich and the campaign commercial for him in the final weeks before Election Day.
When the Guroviches contacted the Steelworkers' District No. 8 office in February, Marie says, "They weren't nice at all. They said, 'We're not responsible.' "
She alludes to this in the commercial shot for Ehrlich's re-election campaign, which is all over the TV screens and attempts to refute charges from Democratic challenger DeJuliis that Gingrichian Republicans such as Ehrlich are insensitive to the needs of working-class people.
In the spot, Marie sits on the front porch of the home the family is renting and says her family was close to eviction, declaring, "Bob Ehrlich helped me when my husband's union wouldn't."
The union is not pleased with such language. The other day, in this newspaper, District 8 secretary Patricia Dorr declared she offered to give Gurovich food and "a Disney video for the children" and, in fact, paid $650 of union money for the family's March rent -- a fact confirmed by the landlord, Alfred Brennan.
Referring to the TV spot, Dorr told this newspaper, "No Steelworker goes hungry or gets evicted. She knows better."
And District 8 director David Wilson added that the union had an emergency fund to help unemployed members who did not qualify for public assistance. More than $4 million had been spent, he said.
To this, Marie Gurovich, political novice but collector of written correspondence, produces letters.
Here is one sent to the Guroviches by James Muir, president of Steelworkers Local 8015. It is dated Feb. 29. It says, in its entirety: "This is to verify that Charles Gurovich is not eligible to receive any monies from the Steelworkers union."
Here is another, from union staff representative Clarence Turner. It is dated March 7. It says, in its entirety:
"This is to advise you that local union 8015 by law cannot disburse money from local union funds in order to help members. From time to time the district office has funds of emergency assistance, but at this time the fund is depleted."
So now, Marie Gurovich was saying, for the union to say they were helpful is to rewrite a certain sequence of events.
"Miss Dorr says she offered me food and I refused? That's just a lie," she says. "That's a strong word to me, and I wouldn't use it if it wasn't true. I'd have taken food. And, a Disney tape? That's just so far-fetched. It's like pouring salt on our wounds. First they won't help you, and then they say they did."
So, what about union officials' claims that they paid the Gurovich rent for March? What about a union check their landlord received?
"Oh, absolutely," Marie Gurovich says. "They sent it April 17 for the March rent. They sent if after Bob Ehrlich called them and said, 'What's going on here?' But my husband was hurt in February, and they didn't want anything to do with us in February and March, until they got the call from Mr. Ehrlich."
Thus, several weeks ago, when Marie Gurovich was walking home from the food store and saw Ehrlich campaigning on Wise Avenue, she approached him to express her gratitude.
"I said, 'If there's anything I can do for you ' And he said, 'Do you want to tell your story on TV?' I said 'sure.' If I had known it would result in all this controversy, though... "
Pub Date: 10/06/96