Governor announces he'll seek re-election Glendening is critical of rival as 'extremist'

Campaign 1998

June 17, 1998|By C. Fraser Smith | C. Fraser Smith,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer William F. Zorzi Jr. contributed to this article.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening launched his campaign for re-election yesterday, hailing his administration's accomplishments and warning Marylanders to resist the appeal of an "extremist" Republican challenger and Democrats promising greater progress via gambling.

"We do not want to make the mistake of electing someone who calls our schools 'holding pens' as if they were prisons, a person who opposes gun control, a person who would take away a woman's right to choose," Glendening said in a pointed reference to GOP front-runner Ellen R. Sauerbrey.

And he suggested that his Democratic rivals who support slot machines were willing to "gamble with our children's future."

His speech marked the opening of a spirited counteroffensive by a governor who has been called the most vulnerable in the nation.

Though he is the incumbent, his words had the sharp edges usually unsheathed by challengers.

A giant Maryland flag billowed behind the 56-year-old Democrat as he announced his re-election bid in an amphitheater on the University of Maryland campus in College Park, officially opening a campaign that has been under way for several months at least.

Glendening's wife, Frances Anne, and their son, Raymond, a sophomore at the University of West Virginia, joined him on the stage.

Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, U.S. Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, state Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and former Gov. William Donald Schaefer were among the Democratic dignitaries who sat on the stage beaming their approval.

Dogged for at least a year by unusually low voter approval ratings, Glendening sought yesterday to show Marylanders he has earned re-election by fulfilling the promises he made when he was elected in 1994.

He offered a detailed list of the campaign promises he said his administration has kept, including more than 6,000 classrooms built or refurbished, 103,000 jobs created and 4,500 prison beds built or planned to "keep violent criminals off the street."

Urging the citizens of Maryland to "listen carefully," Glendening said the 1998 election presents a clear choice.

"We can turn back the clock on the progress we have made. Or we can continue to work together to shape our state with our boldest dreams and best hopes," he said.

Returning to the characterization he used to narrowly defeat Sauerbrey in 1994, Glendening said voters surely do not wish to elect "an extremist, with a far-right agenda."

Sauerbrey responded through her spokesman, Jim Dornan.

"I believe there are many qualities the voters of Maryland will be looking for in the next election, but I don't think hysterical name-calling is one of them," he said.

"It's unfortunate but not unexpected that Glendening once again has chosen the low road of negative campaigning just as he did in 1994," Dornan said.

"Voters should look to the words of fellow Democrat Sidney Kramer that you can't believe a word Parris Glendening says."

Kramer, a former Montgomery County executive, is the running mate of one of Glendening's challengers in the Sept. 15 primary, Eileen M. Rehrmann.

Anticipating that charges by Kramer and others would be leveled at him during the campaign, Glendening and his backers returned often to the theme that he has done precisely what he had promised when he campaigned in 1994.

And he sought to take advantage of his studied opposition to gambling.

A booming economy, he said, means Maryland does "not need slots and casinos to maintain this momentum."

Two of his Democratic primary opponents -- Rehrmann and insurance executive Raymond F. Schoenke Jr. -- are in favor of putting slot machines at Maryland racetracks.

The Rehrmann camp charged Glendening with distorting its position.

"The governor is certainly trying to obfuscate the issue by talking about casinos," said Rehrmann spokesman George F. Harrison.

He said his candidate supports slot machines only at three racetracks, not full-scale casinos.

"He's telling us Maryland doesn't need the $300 million that's going out to Delaware and West Virginia," where slots are already operating at the tracks, Harrison said.

"I think the people of Maryland would be upset to think he's throwing away money that could be used for additional teachers."

Schoenke spokesman Chuck Miller said the Schoenke camp has trouble knowing Glendening's position:

"He allowed gambling in Prince George's County when he was the executive there, so we wonder on which days he's for gambling and which days he's against it."

Glendening concluded his campaign day yesterday at Mondawmin Mall in West Baltimore, where state Sen. Clarence W. Blount delivered a fiery introduction and endorsement.

"We have one of the best governors in the nation," Blount said. "I've seen governors come and I've seen governors go," the senator said of his 28 years in the General Assembly, "and Parris Glendening is the best of all."

More than 300 supporters, many of them waving red, white and blue "Glendening-Townsend '98" placards, chanted "Four More Years!"

The event was sponsored by eight of the city's state senators and other civic and political leaders.

The announcements will continue today in Rockville, where Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan is expected to endorse Glendening, and then at other locations throughout the state.

Pub Date: 6/17/98

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