Sauerbrey, Glendening spar over 'tokenism' She says governor should apologize for his comment

August 22, 1998|By Craig Timberg | Craig Timberg,SUN STAFF

Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey lashed out at Gov. Parris N. Glendening yesterday for accusing her of "tokenism" in her efforts to recruit African-American and other traditionally Democratic groups to her campaign.

Surrounding herself with nearly 50 supporters representing a half-dozen ethnic groups, she said, "The folks that are behind me today are not tokens. I believe that Parris Glendening owes these people an apology."

Glendening, who has been aggressive in appointing blacks to top posts, was quick to fire back through campaign spokesman Peter Hamm. "She has a lot of gall questioning his commitment to racial tolerance," Hamm said.

Yesterday's exchange grew from a comment Glendening made last month. In an interview with the Washington Post, he criticized Sauerbrey's efforts to reach out to blacks, including her decision to endorse Michael Steele, an African-American, in the race for comptroller.

"The African-American community knows this type of tokenism when they see it," Glendening was quoted as saying.

In an interview on WJHU-FM Tuesday, Glendening denied using the term "tokenism" until an aide passed the governor a note reminding him of it.

Sauerbrey responded with yesterday's hastily called news conference at her campaign headquarters in Towson.

In addition to Sauerbrey, several supporters -- black, Jewish, Ukrainian, Hispanic, Asian and a woman who said she was a mix of Jewish and Cherokee -- said they were offended by Glendening's comment and declared their support for Sauerbrey.

Steele was not at the news conference, but he backed Sauerbrey in a phone interview, saying, "To call it tokenism is offensive. As a black man in politics, or a black man in this society, what do I have to do to be recognized on my own merits?"

Glendening has appointed blacks as his chief of staff and as the chief judge on the Maryland Court of Appeals. And the governor has pushed for blacks and other minorities in appointments to judgeships and to state boards and commissions.

"If Ellen Sauerbrey wants to talk commitment to equality and diversity," Hamm said, "then she should explain why she voted against employment-discrimination safeguards, against minority business participation, against fair-housing laws."

Sauerbrey opposes minority quotas and some forms of affirmative action. "You don't solve discrimination problems through further discrimination," she said.

She has worked hard this year to win support among blacks, Jews and other historically Democratic voting blocs. She has visited Israel, attended services at black churches in Baltimore and acknowledged that Republicans have not done enough to reach out to some ethnic groups.

Yesterday, she promised to appoint blacks and other minorities to key posts if she becomes governor.

"It's going to be an inclusive administration," Sauerbrey said. "We are going to work very hard to make life better for all the people of all the ethnic communities that make up this great state of Maryland."

Pub Date: 8/22/98

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