Sauerbrey cuts duties of campaign manager in staff shake-up Albert's role reduced in effort to improve relations with volunteers

Campaign 1998

July 28, 1998|By Craig Timberg | Craig Timberg,SUN STAFF

Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey has stripped her campaign manager of most of his duties in a staff shake-up intended to improve relations with grass-roots volunteers.

Campaign manager David Albert, who had alienated some campaign volunteers and staffers, is retaining his title but has been reduced to mainly administrative duties, sources said yesterday. He had run Sauerbrey's campaign for governor since June 1997.

Rising to power are deputy campaign manager Jim Dornan -- a veteran political hand hired as press secretary in March -- and deputy campaign chairman Jim Anderson, a longtime volunteer from Charles County.

"This is a minor reshuffling playing to staff members' strengths," said Dornan, 38, who will take on scheduling and other duties usually handled by campaign managers.

Albert, 34, did not return phone messages yesterday. He came to the campaign with little political experience and quickly ran afoul of some volunteers and staffers.

Detractors called him prickly, condescending and too concerned with raising money. Several seemed almost to cheer as news of his demotion spread.

"He was upsetting the volunteers with his attitude," said Allen Prettyman, who resigned as Sauerbrey's Montgomery County chairman in November to protest Albert's running of the campaign. "If you called him 'Dave,' his name was 'David.' "

A personality conflict with Albert also led to the November departure of Laura Woolfrey, who was press secretary.

Staff intrigue is common to campaigns. Gov. Parris N. Glendening fired campaign manager Tim Phillips in May. Republican challenger Charles I. Ecker, the Howard County executive, had to find a new campaign manager when his quit in June.

The change in the Sauerbrey campaign highlights tensions between her core of mostly volunteer supporters from 1994 and the new group of mostly paid staffers in charge this year.

The two groups are different in both style and substance. Some longtime supporters are upset with what they see as a liberal drift as Sauerbrey strives to appear more moderate in her second run for governor.

"It's not just David Albert, it's her whole staff that has to go, from the top to bottom," said Guy Sabatino, president of the conservative Republican Club of Maryland. "You can't tone her down. She is what she is."

But campaign sources said Albert's demotion will not change Sauerbrey's strategy.

Dornan, who will now handle many of the day-to-day chores formerly handled by Albert, managed the 1994 campaign of Republican Rep. J. C. Watts of Oklahoma and was chief of staff for Rep. Richard M. Burr, a North Carolina Republican.

Anderson, a retired Air Force colonel, is chairman of the campaign's strategy committee and was Charles County campaign chairman in 1994.

Pub Date: 7/28/98

TC

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