Balto. Co. executive will seek re-election But Ruppersberger won't rule out bid for governor's seat

November 20, 1996|By Ronnie Greene | Ronnie Greene,SUN STAFF

Nixing the notion that his sights are set on the governor's mansion, Baltimore County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger told a group of 100 business and political leaders yesterday he intends to seek a second term in Towson.

"I plan on running for county executive next time," Ruppersberger declared during a breakfast sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce. "You find out you really like a job where you can make a difference."

Still, it's possible the political winds might shift Ruppersberger's sights toward Annapolis before the 1998 election. He acknowledged as much shortly after publicly declaring his aspirations yesterday to seek another county term.

"I will never say never," Ruppersberger said when asked if had ruled out a bid for governor.

But by making his county re-election comments in a very public forum -- with several reporters on hand -- Ruppersberger was sending the message that he's not jumping into the governor's race.

At least not yet.

"I was elected to be county executive -- not to be out there running for another public office," Ruppersberger said after the breakfast, at which the chamber outlined its legislative agenda.

His comments, public and private, were made at a time when Ruppersberger is regularly named as a possible challenger to Gov. Parris N. Glendening, who is battling an image problem amid criticism of his political fund raising.

Ruppersberger's name hasn't been the only one to surface. Other possible challengers include Harford County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann, a Bel Air Democrat who has been telling potential supporters in her county and around the state that she has decided to run against Glendening.

Ruppersberger has said he intends to support Glendening, his fellow Democrat, at least through 1997.

The only way he'd run, he said, is if Glendening's political fortunes don't improve -- and if the state's political and business leaders come to him with the governor's race in mind.

"For the leadership of the party to say, 'Dutch, you're the right person.' If in the end it's the right thing to do, I will look at it," Ruppersberger explained.

To those who know Ruppersberger, the book is not closed on a run for the governor's seat.

"I don't think he's really made up his mind, because it's too early," said David S. Thaler, the chamber's chairman of the board. "Unfortunately, the governor has very low ratings. And only the future will tell."

Thaler said the business community would strongly support Ruppersberger's re-election in the county.

"He's a do-it-now guy," Thaler said. "He ran a small business. He knows how to make a payroll."

Ruppersberger, a former police officer and prosecutor, held a law practice while serving for nine years on the County Council. In 1994, he won election as county executive.

In his two years as steward of the $1.3 billion operation, Ruppersberger has pushed a fourfold platform of public safety, schools, economic development and the rebirth of aged neighborhoods.

"Dutch is looking at all the good things we've started, and he'd really like to finish," said Michael H. Davis, his chief spokesman. "And right now, he feels the county needs some continuity."

Council Chairman Kevin Kamenetz, a Pikesville Democrat, was among the elected officials on hand during Ruppersberger's statements.

"Dutch has always indicated to me his first priority has been to run for re-election," said Kamenetz. "And he's interested in completing his job as county executive."

But Kamenetz, like others, knows the political tide could easily turn.

"I don't think any elected official can accurately predict what the future holds, and Dutch is no different," Kamenetz said.

Pub Date: 11/20/96

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