Kramer joins the character attack Montgomery politico takes aim at governor on Rehrmann's behalf

Campaign 1998

June 16, 1998|By William F. Zorzi Jr. | William F. Zorzi Jr.,SUN STAFF

Democrat Eileen M. Rehrmann's gubernatorial campaign stepped up its criticism of Gov. Parris N. Glendening yesterday, as her new running mate questioned the governor's character and whether he is "capable of telling the truth."

As he was formally introduced as Rehrmann's candidate for lieutenant governor, Sidney Kramer sharply criticized Glendening's integrity and ethics in office.

"I don't think the man is capable of telling the truth," Kramer said in an interview.

Rehrmann, the Harford County executive, is one of several Democrats challenging Glendening in the Sept. 15 primary. She introduced Kramer as her running mate at the campaign's new headquarters in Laurel.

Kramer, 72, is a Silver Spring businessman who has been a state legislator and Montgomery County executive.

While Rehrmann made veiled references to Glendening's character, she reserved for Kramer the role of making the sharpest comments.

"Eileen Rehrmann is a leader of integrity whose word is her bond," Kramer said during a news conference. "She is the only Democrat who can restore public trust to the governor's office."

He ticked off a list of incidents in which he said Glendening owned up to his actions only "after the truth leaked out."

Kramer cited "the outrageous pension windfall he helped arrange for himself and his inner circle" before Glendening left office as Prince George's County executive; his flying to a fund-raiser in New York aboard a corporate jet owned by a company bidding on a state contract; and Glendening's "reversal" of a decision to build the Inter-County Connector highway link between Montgomery and Prince George's counties.

Peter S. Hamm, a Glendening campaign spokesman, responded Kramer's remarks by attacking his and Rehrmann's support for slot machines at the state's horse tracks.

"He is the slots and casinos candidate for lieutenant governor," Hamm said. "Sid Kramer has to stand up and sell bringing casinos to Montgomery County, and we're looking forward to that debate between him and [Lt. Gov.] Kathleen Kennedy Townsend."

He noted that Glendening ultimately decided not to accept the early pension benefits he stood to receive after leaving Prince George's government. "The governor turned down the pension, he admitted he made a mistake, and life goes on," Hamm said.

As for the New York fund-raiser, Hamm said: "When the governor discovered the company in question was seeking a state contract, he did not accept their money, and the company did not receive the state business. End of story."

Regarding Glendening's Inter-County Connector decision, Hamm said that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency already had rejected the highway proposal when the governor decided to study other transportation options.

"Let's all consider the fabulous progress Sid Kramer made on the ICC during his four years as Montgomery County executive," Hamm said. Kramer was county executive from 1986 to 1990.

As many political observers have expected, challengers to Glendening -- both Democrats in the primary and Republicans looking ahead to the general election -- have seized on the issue of the governor's character.

Democrat Raymond F. Schoenke Jr., the Montgomery County businessman and former Washington Redskin, alludes to Glendening's character in his television ads. One says Schoenke "is disgusted with politicians who sell out for contributions."

Republicans Ellen R. Sauerbrey and Howard County Executive Charles I. Ecker chose to attack Glendening -- and rarely each other -- during a debate last month.

One candidate who seems to be the exception is Democrat Terry McGuire, a Prince George's physician. "I'm not going to make this a campaign of personalities, but a campaign of issues," McGuire said.

Pub Date: 6/16/98

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