Sauerbrey tailors message during stop in Baltimore Republican stresses support for schools, not party affiliation

Campaign 1998

August 12, 1998|By Craig Timberg | Craig Timberg,SUN STAFF

Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey plunged into her general election campaign yesterday, traveling to Baltimore's Lexington Market to shake hands, give out stickers and lobby for votes among a predominantly urban, Democratic crowd.

"I was going to vote for Rehrmann, but now that she's dropped out, I don't know who to vote for," Almeta Torian, 41, a Baltimore Democrat, told a Sauerbrey supporter. "Tell me why I should vote for her. I'm certainly not going to vote for Glendening."

Rehrmann is Harford County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann, Democrat whose abrupt withdrawal from the race for governor Monday reshaped the campaign.

And Glendening is Gov. Parris N. Glendening, another Democrat free to save his cash for a likely rematch with Sauerbrey in November. He spent the day on the phone at his campaign headquarters in Prince George's County, raising more money and talking with party leaders.

Sauerbrey, who leads Republican rival Charles I. Ecker by a wide margin, used the morning to signal her intention to court voters generally considered to be part of Glendening's base. Hearing Almeta Torian's challenge, Sauerbrey went to work.

"If you care about schools in Baltimore City, I was a high school science teacher," Sauerbrey said. "I'm going to focus on really restoring discipline to our public schools, and teaching reading and giving our children a head start."

Torian was not impressed: "Is that why I should vote for her, because she was a science teacher? Is that what she's telling me?"

But her friend Faith McDowell, 34, was listening to Sauerbrey talk about schools and affordable housing. "I can honestly say that I will vote for you," McDowell said. "I'm a Democrat, but I will vote for you."

Sauerbrey got lots of smiles throughout the morning, though one voter called out "Sourgrapes" -- a nickname stemming from her challenge to the 1994 election, which she narrowly lost to Glendening.

Another voter -- apparently mistaking Sauerbrey for Rehrmann -- said, "I thought she dropped out of the race."

Sauerbrey responded firmly, "I'm in the race. I'm going to win."

The campaign event was well-tailored to the crowd at Lexington Market.

Wilhemina Vaughn, 58, a Baltimore math teacher, led a small corps of yellow-shirted supporters. They handed out fliers that showed Sauerbrey smiling beside her running mate, Richard D. Bennett, and her pick for comptroller, Michael Steele.

"The Team For Baltimore City!" the flier said, listing more than a dozen positions on crime, schools, economic development -- never mentioning that Sauerbrey is a Republican.

That word barely passed her lips all morning as she shook hands and chatted with nearly everyone she came across, even posing for a picture with a king mackerel and an octopus at Faidley's Seafood.

Vaughn was usually a step ahead or behind, calling out to potential supporters, "Be sure to vote. We need you, baby."

Carolyn Price, 49, told Sauerbrey she was a drug addict and hoped to begin a treatment program. Sauerbrey assured the woman that she favored expanding such programs.

"We women have determination," Sauerbrey said, hugging Price. "Get in a program."

Pub Date: 8/12/98

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