GOP Senate hopefuls lining up Candidates: The latest of five Republicans who want to unseat Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski is a Baltimore lawyer remembered for his famous memos.

The Political Game

March 31, 1998|By William F. Zorzi Jr. | William F. Zorzi Jr.,SUN STAFF

REPUBLICANS appear to be tripping over themselves, getting in line to challenge the formidable Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski next fall.

At least five Republicans, albeit virtual unknowns in state politics, say they're in.

Most recently, and most notably, George W. Liebmann, a respected Baltimore lawyer best remembered for his memo-writing talents, formally weighed in, saying he would seek the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate seat.

Liebmann, 58, was once a key aide to former Gov. Harry R. Hughes and author of two once-famous memorandums warning the governor of problems with the state's savings and loans in 1984, a year before the collapse of the thrift industry. (Ironically, disclosure of those documents seriously hurt Hughes' aspirations to become a U.S. senator.)

These days, however, Liebmann has his sights on Washington, questioning the judgment and effectiveness of Mikulski, the popular Baltimore Democrat who has been in the Senate since 1987.

"What's driving this is my feeling that the tone of politics isn't what it should be, and she has been a major contributor to this," he said.

His complaints about Mikulski center on what he calls "small-minded politics consisting of a series of symbolic offerings to victim groups" and her efforts to "nationalize all controversial questions."

Liebmann, who until about eight years ago was a registered independent voter, says he would offer "leadership which seeks new mechanisms for addressing domestic programs" and that "seeks to restore the vitality of local government and institutions."

He is not alone in his desire to unseat Mikulski.

Other Republicans in the race are Kenneth L. Wayman II, president of a Columbia computer software company; Dr. Michael Gloth, chief of geriatrics at Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore; Thomas L. Scott, a Baltimore County contractor; and Bradlyn McClanahan of Annapolis, who ran against then-Rep. Tom McMillen in 1988.

Whoever wins the GOP primary in September, however, will face a tough opponent in Mikulski.

She became the top vote-getter in state history in 1992, when she last ran, and raised more than $1.35 million last year in preparation for seeking her third term in November.

Mikulski declined to comment on the potential competition.

"I'm proud of my record," she said. "I'm running a vigorous campaign and looking forward to taking my message to the voters of Maryland."

Maryland Democratic Party is getting new director

The Maryland Democratic Party is getting a new executive director in a couple of weeks to replace Anne MacKinnon, who left abruptly amid a political flap in February, when she testified against legislation blessed by the state's top Democrats.

Kimberly Callinan, membership coordinator for the Center for Law and Education in Washington, is scheduled to take over the day-to-day operations of the party April 16.

Callinan, who resides in Greenbelt, has worked for the Democratic National Committee and the "Women Vote!" project undertaken in 1996 by EMILY's List, the national political action committee that supports the election bids of Democratic women who advocate abortion rights.

Interestingly, she came highly recommended from Tim Phillips, Gov. Parris N. Glendening's campaign manager, and Ann R. Beser, Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski's campaign manager -- two camps that don't always see things the same way.

"She brings us skills we need right now -- voter contract, registration and turnout," said Peter B. Krauser, chairman of the state Democratic Party.

Absences at high-level event due to confidence in Terps

As he stood to address a room full of Maryland's top-ranking business leaders yesterday, Gov. Parris N. Glendening said he thought it appropriate that they were meeting in "the Power House," a meeting room that is part of the Loews Hotel complex in Annapolis.

Conspicuously absent from this power assembly -- gathered to announce a $15 million grant to the business school at the University of Maryland, College Park -- were Lance W. Billingsley, chairman of the University System of Maryland's board of regents, and Donald N. Langenberg, the system's chancellor.

The two were not around, Glendening explained dryly, because, banking on the success of the Terps, they earlier had made nonrefundable hotel reservations in San Antonio -- site of the NCAA basketball tournament's Final Four, which ended last night. (The Terps were out of the running a week ago.)

The businessmen chuckled.

Then, Glendening offered them insight into the workings of government.

While he was trying to find another $7 million in state funds for College Park's so-called "flagship initiative," Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller nudged him at a meeting several weeks ago and asked, "Why don't we go ahead and do the $7 million?"

"I would like to but we're over the spending affordability limit," the governor said.

"Let's do it anyway," Miller said.

So they did.

Pub Date: 3/31/98

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