'Dr. Who' refreshingly frank candidate

May 24, 1998|By MICHAEL OLESKER

DR. TERRY McGUIRE is so unknown, he's the footnote to an afterthought. He's the Democratic candidate for governor they should call Dr. Who? Parris Glendening's got the trappings of office, Eileen Rehrmann's got Larry Gibson behind her, Ray Schoenke's got lots of TV commercials.

And McGuire, at the moment, has lunch. He's sitting at Galeano's Restaurant, at Eastern and High in Little Italy, ordering the lasagna and wondering how to get his campaign cooking. He's been out walking the city's streets. He's from Capitol Heights, in Prince George's County, but he says it's like Baltimore.

"Where I come from," he laughs, "a lot of kids' first jobs, they were lookouts."

"For what?" he's asked.

"Whatever," he says.

If this isn't the sound of a city kid, it'll pass. From lookouts, he starts right in on gambling, because he figures this divides the leading candidates and also because he says he knows the subject and has a solution.

"You were a lookout for gamblers?" he's asked.

"I'm talking about other people," he says. He has faded red hair like Red Buttons', but a face closer to Lloyd Bridges coming up for air.

"My cousin Mickey went to Vegas," he says. "His brother Larry went to Atlantic City and set up some of the first casinos. Mickey decided to start his own book in Vegas, without permission of certain people." He leaves this vague. "He started building action, and he had to leave town. Then he couldn't leave the house. And then certain guys wound up dead, so after a while, he went back. So I know gambling."

This is the first story out of McGuire's mouth, and it sets a nice tone in a time when politicians tend to speak like tax

accountants. There's a sense of street smarts about McGuire, rTC but he also comes out of Georgetown University, the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the Army Medical Corps. He's managed two family grain farms and helped run the family construction business. He's written three novels. He runs his medical practice in Seat Pleasant, where he grew up. The day he decided to run for governor, he hung a simple plaque on a wall in his Prince George's County campaign office.

"In honor of St. Jude," the plaque reads. "Patron of Hopeless Causes."

He has little name recognition, but plenty of hard-line ideas. Crime? No parole for violent offenders and a DNA bank that keeps track of them. Nonviolent offenders? Increased alternative sentencing, including home detention. Schools? Move the disruptive kids to special schools, and if they're still disruptive, 11 send 'em to jail. Abortion? Against it, unless the mother's life is endangered. Drugs? Judges who enforce existing laws.

It's not an agenda for everyone, but he's upfront about everything, which is politically refreshing.

McGuire talks tough on crime, rattling off horrendous figures on Maryland street crime, which he saw at close range when his medical office was held up. McGuire remembers "shotguns in my office. I told everybody, 'Be cool. Nobody wants to get hurt in here.' I was calm, but afterwards I was pretty shaken. But this is what goes on every day, a level of crime that's unacceptable in any democratic society."

Sound tough? He says he's conservative like Ellen Sauerbrey but without the "ties to the ultra-right wing, the radical right. Also, I'm strong for labor, which establishes the living standard for the average American. In America, we've unfortunately learned to put profits over people. The downsizing, the layoffs. That's gotta stop. Communism was bad, but extreme capitalism is just as bad when you lay off people just to make a few extra bucks."

And gambling, the great divider of the Parris Glendening and Eileen Rehrmann camps? McGuire's against casinos but wants a public referendum on slot machines -- but slots that would be owned and operated by the state, with 10 percent of the take going to racing purses and the rest "to the people, for tax relief." He would specifically not locate the slots at racetracks or hotels.

"I know what gambling can do to families, to society," he says. The referendum would leave it up to the public, but his tight government grip might control societal problems. But it's a plan that would be fought by racetrack interests.

"I know I'm a long shot," McGuire says, polishing off his lasagna and diving into a dish of tiramisu. "My wife asked me, 'Why do you want to run?' I told her, 'Because I have to.' "

Running's the easy part. Getting people to pay attention's another story. Right now, he's Dr. Who, the footnote to an afterthought of a political campaign.

Pub Date: 5/24/98

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