Long shot hits streets in battle for recognition Candidate: Terry McGuire, who bills himself as the conservative alternative, has gone directly to the people to get his message and name out.

The Political Game

August 04, 1998|By William F. Zorzi Jr. | William F. Zorzi Jr.,SUN STAFF

TERRY MCGUIRE calls it his "mass-media grass-roots campaign" -- standing by the side of the road, greeting commuters all around the state and hoping that their nods, smiles and waves translate to votes Sept. 15.

McGuire knew from the beginning he would never be able to match the high-powered gubernatorial campaigns of Gov. Parris Glendening and Harford County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann, both of whom have sizable organizations and financial backing.

So he took his Democratic primary campaign for governor to the streets, with an occasional supporter or two and a 20-by-5-foot black and safety-yellow banner in the back of a pickup truck.

"We get a very good reaction, excellent reaction," he said. "It's name identification. What else can I do?"

For months, the 55-year-old physician from Anne Arundel County has been standing alongside the state's busiest roads, first in Southern Maryland, then at select exits around the Capital Beltway and the Baltimore Beltway. He's been out there sometimes in the evening, but more often, from 6 to 9: 30 in the morning -- waving to tens of thousands of commuters.

Every Saturday since Memorial Day, he's been alongside the eastbound lanes of U.S. 50 near Wye Mills on the Eastern Shore, trying to catch the eyes of beachgoers. He's been out there some days for nine hours, from 7 a.m. to 4 in the afternoon.

"People will stop and talk, but not many," McGuire said.

One guy pulled over and wanted his picture taken with McGuire. Another guy just stopped his car dead in the middle of U.S. 50 to talk.

"It's unbelievable. They beep their horns, they wave, they smile," McGuire said. "They love it."

McGuire maintains he has no choice other than to campaign this way. His problem has been finding a way to get his name out there, to sell himself as the "conservative alternative" -- the anti-abortion, pro-labor Democrat for governor.

"I'm doing this because I'm not getting the coverage in the press, and I've got to get the name recognition," McGuire said.

He also has not raised the kind of money that a statewide campaign requires. "I'm not going to be able to compete with Rehrmann and Glendening on TV," he concedes.

Nevertheless, he's winding down the roadside campaigning and moving to the next phase -- "back to the shoe leather."

Given his low-budget effort and his "pickup-truck politics," it is no surprise that only about 1 percent of likely Democratic primary voters know enough about him to say they intend to vote for him, according to the latest polls.

But he is undeterred -- and unfailingly optimistic.

"I don't think we're out of this," McGuire said. "I really do not.

"I don't think people have made their minds up how they're going to vote," he said.

Schaefer's Kool Aid Kids back on campaign trail

After an eight-year hiatus, William Donald Schaefer's Kool Aid Kids are back on the campaign trail, this time pushing the former governor's candidacy for state comptroller.

Schaefer's cronies have dusted off their fund-raising apparatus -- once the best in the state -- for an event Aug. 26 at Martin's West. Tickets to get in the door are $150 a head, but $1,000 will get you into the VIP cocktail reception.

Schaefer has said he wants to raise $2 million for the comptroller's race, and given the loyalty and determination of his followers, he likely will come awfully close. He is taking nothing for granted, despite an initially very favorable reaction from the public when he announced his intention to succeed the late Louis L. Goldstein as comptroller.

Until Gov. Parris N. Glendening earned the mantle of The Six Million Dollar Man for his record fund-raising efforts in 1994, Schaefer and his faithful throng held the title for raising money.

In 1986, in his first bid for governor, Schaefer raised an unprecedented $3.3 million. In December 1988, he held two fund-raisers simultaneously -- one in Baltimore, the other in Prince George's County -- and pulled in $1.1 million in one night for his re-election bid; and in 1990, he raised another $2.5 million for his re-election, despite facing only token opposition from Republican William S. Shepard, a retired diplomat from Montgomery County.

The knack for politics runs in the family

Kerry Kennedy Townsend, the 6-year-old youngest daughter of Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, launched what appears by all accounts to be a promising political career last week at a North Baltimore campaign rally.

Standing amid nearly two dozen pros, including Gov. Parris N. Glendening, the lieutenant governor and the starting lineup of the Baltimore City Council, Kerry was introduced to the crowd, presumably as the warm-up act at the Democratic lovefest.

Casually dressed in T-shirt, shorts and tennis shoes, the littlest Townsend saw her opportunity, and she took it.

Kerry apparently had learned a key, though oft-forgot, rule of stump speechifying early, and, when handed the microphone, kept it short. She belted out an enthusiastic "Hi" followed by a peculiarly familiar, toothy smile.

The soon-to-be-second-grader stole the show.

"It's a proud tradition," concluded her beaming mother.

Pub Date: 8/04/98

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