After delivering record millions of state dollars to Baltimore County, Gov. Parris N. Glendening got something back yesterday -- a ringing re-election endorsement from a county executive he once feared might try to replace him.
"Baltimore County's priorities are the governor's priorities," said County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger at a Towson Armory rally packed with Democratic officials and campaign workers. "So I ask the voters to join me in voting for Parris Glendening."
Yesterday's endorsement came after months of speculation about whether Ruppersberger, also a Democrat, might run for governor himself, and only two days after the filing deadline for this year's elections.
Coming from the head of the third-largest jurisdiction, the endorsement helps counter the backing Democratic primary challenger Eileen M. Rehrmann has received from Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and Prince George's County Executive Wayne K. Curry.
Glendening already has been endorsed by former Gov. William Donald Schaefer and by Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan.
In announcing his endorsement, Ruppersberger credited Glendening with funneling $77.6 million in school construction funds and $70 million in school operating funds into the county's aging school system. "Parris Glendening, in my opinion, is the education governor," Ruppersberger said.
And the county executive noted millions more in state aid for everything from parkland purchases to redevelopment of older neighborhoods to economic development from Sparrows Point to Owings Mills.
For his part, Glendening praised Ruppersberger for backing his legislative agenda with the General Assembly and for giving good advice on everything from whom to appoint state comptroller to how to handle Pfiesteria in the Chesapeake Bay.
"This is more than just a marriage of political convenience," said Glendening, who was joined at the rally by Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. "This is about shared values. Shared priorities, shared goals," he said, referring to state and county programs to help schools and older communities and stimulate economic growth.
The county executive and his supporters said that despite the flattery and urgings of dozens of friends and associates, he never really planned a gubernatorial race. "My intention has always been to run back to finish what I started," Ruppersberger said yesterday.
The only thing that would have changed that, supporters say, would have been a groundswell of Democratic leaders seeking to replace Glendening.
Ruppersberger's endorsement comes at a time of high popularity for the county executive, who has no primary opponent and faces only a weak Republican challenge by former state Del. John J. Bishop. But it remains to be seen how well the endorsement translates into votes for Glendening in a county seen as critical to this year's election.
Robert J. Barrett, Ruppersberger's special assistant and his campaign manager in 1994, said the executive will campaign aggressively for Glendening. The governor got 102,398 votes in the county four years ago, but still lost by 32,000 votes to Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey, who once represented the northern county in the House of Delegates.
Glendening's opponents, meanwhile, downplayed the endorsement.
"We don't expect that to affect us at all," said George Harrison, spokesman for Rehrmann. "The governor played Santa Claus in January. That's really what it's all about."
Jim Dornan, a spokesman for Sauerbrey, said "voters are a lot smarter than to follow like lemmings. The story isn't that he got the endorsement. I think the story is how long it took him to get it."
Pub Date: 7/09/98