Candidates assail absent governor at forum Glendening is criticized as poor business advocate at state chamber meeting

July 10, 1998|By Craig Timberg | Craig Timberg,SUN STAFF

The major candidates for governor -- minus incumbent Gov. Parris N. Glendening -- vied for the support of business leaders at a forum yesterday before the Maryland Chamber of Commerce.

They wasted few shots on each other, instead accusing Glendening of making the state less friendly to business. Several candidates noted that the chamber unsuccessfully sued the governor over his executive order granting union bargaining rights to state workers.

"As governor," said Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey, "I'll be a consistent friend, not someone who the Maryland Chamber of Commerce will have to take to court and sue."

Said Democrat Eileen M. Rehrmann, the two-term Harford County executive, "Just as the governor is missing today, he's been missing as the state's leader in job growth and business development."

Nearly 150 chamber members attended the forum, at the Renaissance Harborplace Hotel in downtown Baltimore.

The forum was to include six candidates, but Glendening bowed out to attend a transportation meeting at the White House. Millionaire Democrat Raymond F. Schoenke Jr. dropped out of the race Monday.

That left Democrats Rehrmann and Davidsonville physician Dr. Terry McGuire and Republicans Sauerbrey and Howard County Executive Charles I. Ecker.

Some party differences were evident. Both Republicans favored a right-to-work law, which prohibits "closed shops" requiring all workers to join a union. Both Democrats opposed right-to-work.

But often the candidates sounded similar themes, promising to trim regulations, improve public education and do a better job selling the state to potential employers.

"I want to do for the state what I've done for Howard County," said Ecker, noting that Howard has robust job growth and the top score on fiscal health from all three major bond-rating agencies.

McGuire -- a fiery speaker who proudly declared his pro-union and anti-abortion positions to a business group usually focused on economic matters -- said he would improve the state's economy by fighting crime and eliminating parole for violent criminals.

"If Terry McGuire is elected, they're going to do all the time," McGuire said, his voice rising. "I'm a different kind of Democrat. That's who Terry McGuire is."

Pub Date: 7/10/98

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