KURT L. Schmoke could have borrowed from Longfellow yesterday. He shot an endorsement into the air, where it will fall he knows not where. Who dares predict the impact of his conspicuous support for Eileen M. Rehrmann, the Harford County executive trying to take the Democratic nomination from Gov. Parris N. Glendening?
Will the mayor be able to deliver Baltimore? Will suburban Democrats embittered toward the city now view Mr. Glendening more favorably? Might Mr. Schmoke's imprimatur give Ms. Rehrmann an unexpected boost in the Washington suburbs, where she isn't well-known but the Rhodes scholar-mayor is respected?
This much is certain: The mayor's endorsement awakens a sleepy campaign. His support, along with Ms. Rehrmann's position for slot machines at Maryland racetracks, provides voters an issue to distinguish the Democratic front-runners.
Despite having Mr. Schmoke's vaunted strategist, Larry S. Gibson, in her camp, Ms. Rehrmann has struggled to build a statewide image. To the average voter, she probably looks much like the incumbent: A low-wattage, moderate, suburban politician -- though, also like the governor, is a more imaginative policy-maker than her serious demeanor suggests.
The mayor's uncharacteristically fiery endorsement oratory, in which he called the governor "unreliable, inconsistent and uncredible," suggests he understands his stakes are as great as Ms. Rehrmann's. If the governor is re-elected, it would be unfortunate if he were to punish the city for a split with its leader.
We don't think that will happen. Mr. Glendening appears committed to rebuilding the urban core, from school reform to "smart growth."
No doubt Ellen R. Sauerbrey, the Republican front-runner who narrowly lost the governor's race in 1994, was having gleeful thoughts during the Democratic pep rally to slam an incumbent governor. She might be wondering: Is it Christmas already?
Pub Date: 4/22/98