Rehrmann out to boost name recognition She embarks on tour to increase exposure before Democratic primary

Campaign 1998

October 20, 1997|By William F. Zorzi Jr. | William F. Zorzi Jr.,SUN STAFF

Stymied in her gubernatorial bid by low name recognition among Maryland voters, Eileen M. Rehrmann is taking her show on the road.

Rehrmann, the two-term Harford County executive, yesterday kicked off a monthlong statewide tour to meet voters one-on-one and increase her exposure as a challenger to Gov. Parris N. Glendening in the Democratic primary in September.

Conceding that such a battle against a sitting governor "won't be easy," Rehrmann told a group of more than 100 supporters on Main Street in Bel Air: "I'm sure we can win this campaign for governor.

"I've never shied away from a difficult challenge or a difficult decision," she said.

Listening to voters

As supporters sipped mulled cider and munched brownies and cookies, Rehrmann said she was touring the state to "listen to the people of Maryland, hear their problems and hear their ideas for solutions."

She asserted that her time away from the office would not be a problem because she had put a "good team" in place to manage the county's day-to-day business. Rehrmann also said she would be keeping track of what is going on in the county by computer.

Rehrmann's tour coincides with a couple of fund-raisers scheduled for this week and a mass mailing of campaign literature -- slick, full-color brochures with her blue, orange and white campaign colors -- that is scheduled to go out today to voters.

The literature touts her as "the only Democrat for governor who can win in the November 1998 general election" -- a mantra that is being repeated by supporters in an effort to chip away at Glendening's candidacy.

The suggestion is that Glendening cannot win re-election next year against the likely Republican nominee, Ellen R. Sauerbrey, who lost to him in 1994 by 5,993 votes in a state where GOP voters are outnumbered by Democrats by nearly a 2-1 ratio.

"I'm her worst nightmare," Rehrmann said about Sauerbrey.

The cover of the brochure features photographs of Glendening and Sauerbrey -- him on the left, her on the right and Rehrmann in the middle. It asks, "Who would be the best governor for all of Maryland?"

Never far from Rehrmann yesterday was Larry S. Gibson, the top political adviser to Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, who has signed on to guide her bid for governor.

Gibson, a one-time supporter of Glendening's, was clearly energized by the prospect of being directly involved in the race. An old political hand in Baltimore, Gibson was in his full campaign mode yesterday, taking a hands-on approach by handing out literature, arranging for placement of signs and balloons, and steering Rehrmann toward potential voters.

"We're executing our game plan -- one that I think will win -- and we're getting good response from voters," Gibson said.

'Zip trips'

Gibson said Rehrmann will push hard until Thanksgiving, when the campaigning will slack off a bit until after the holidays. But she will be back on the road next spring with a second "all-county tour" planned for March.

"You can't sprint for 11 months," he said about the primary race.

Rehrmann's tour of the state -- "zip trips" that will put her in each of the state's 23 counties and Baltimore before Nov. 22 -- began yesterday on her home turf of Harford County. Today, she will be in vote-rich Prince George's County, Glendening's home base, where Gibson has strong political ties to County Executive Wayne K. Curry.

Pub Date: 10/20/97

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