Optimist McGuire sees primary win Rehrmann's pullout leaves only 'soft' Glendening support

Campaign 1998

August 14, 1998|By William F. Zorzi Jr. | William F. Zorzi Jr.,SUN STAFF

MITCHELLVILLE -- When Harford County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann's campaign for governor ground to a halt for lack of money this week, Dr. Terry McGuire saw his last hurdle to winning the Sept. 15 Democratic primary disappear.

Never mind Gov. Parris N. Glendening, the Democratic incumbent who has fended off all comers.

"His support is soft," said McGuire, a physician from Davidsonville who hit the campaign trail with new vigor after Rehrmann's withdrawal Monday.

He has little time for skeptics. He is out there every day, greeting voters with one hand, while he slips them campaign literature and a red, white and blue Terry McGuire for Governor emery board with the other.

McGuire, 55, began yesterday at a candidates forum at the Collington Episcopal Life Care Community in Mitchellville, Prince George's County, along with a dozen other candidates running for office.

About 60 of the gated community's 400 residents gathered to hear what they had to say. It was a tough room of sharp and well-read seniors who would never consider not voting.

He didn't exactly wow them.

At one point during his five-minute stump speech -- precisely during his trashing of HMOs -- one man in a motorized scooter left the room.

Emily O. Baker didn't think McGuire was gubernatorial material, either.

"He's an amateur, as far as I'm concerned," said Baker, 84, a retired federal employee and social worker. "There's something that comes across that indicates he doesn't have a grasp of the broader spectrum."

The night before, McGuire was received similarly at the Ellicott City Democratic Club's endorsement meeting, where he delivered a three-minute speech before quickly leaving.

"I found him a bit of a character," said Lowell G. Wilson, a Howard County lawyer. "I rolled my eyes a few times."

Nevertheless, McGuire managed to pick up a couple of votes there. However, the club's endorsement went to Glendening.

The way McGuire sees it, if he can capture some of Rehrmann's share of the vote, couple it with those folks who are still undecided and steal Glendening supporters who are willing to consider another candidate, he's in the door. He gets the nomination.

"This race is not over," he declared.

Stranger things have happened in politics.

But not many.

In polls taken before Rehrmann left the race, McGuire registered with about 1 percent of likely voters in the Democratic Party. And the Glendening camp is not worried.

"Terry McGuire is a nice man," said Peter S. Hamm, a Glendening campaign spokesman. "He's exercising his power to express himself in the great American tradition."

And he keeps at it, driving to wherever he can be heard in his Lincoln Town Car, a black sedan splattered with "McGuire for Governor" bumper stickers.

Most often, he is accompanied by his campaign coordinator, Donald E. Anderson, an old-time Prince George's County political operative who plays the role of sign-installer, comic relief and pitch man.

After leaving the senior event yesterday, McGuire spent lunchtime outside the courthouse in Upper Marlboro, chatting up potential voters and cutting up with old friends he saw on Main Street, trying mostly to get them to agree to put up his black and yellow lawn signs.

McGuire, who practiced medicine in Seat Pleasant for 28 years and still has a clinic there, has kept his hand in Prince George's County politics over the years.

It is clear that he is on his home turf in "Marlboro," as he calls the county seat, a hub of behind-the-scenes political activity and small-town gossip.

He is most comfortable here, with a group of lunchtime well-wishers that includes some good ol' boys, former police officers and former prosecutors. Gone is the occasional defensiveness that shows itself at times -- first as a flushed face, then as downright pugnacity -- when he's questioned a little too closely or told something he doesn't want to hear.

He was accompanied by an entourage that included Anderson and former Lt. Gov. Samuel W. Bogley III, an old political ally and fellow opponent of abortion rights.

"Abortion -- that's still problematical for a lot of us," said Bogley, who was jettisoned from the lieutenant governor's spot by Gov. Harry R. Hughes in 1982 after their first term together.

Bogley was explaining how he believed the Rehrmann supporters were ripe for the picking, how McGuire is being given a second look, when the candidate found a live one.

McGuire had come across a one-time Rehrmann supporter -- until Monday, in fact, a campaign worker -- in front of the courthouse.

"You gonna vote for Glendening?" he asked.

"No," the woman replied.

"You gonna vote for me?"

"Mebbe," she said.

He smiled, obviously buoyed by the response.

" 'Maybe,' " he said. "That's better than 'No.' "

Pub Date: 8/14/98

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