Glendening takes time for garden-party circuit Campaign: A backyard party was among at least 10 stops the governor made in a whirlwind weekend aimed at persuading Democratic voters to show up on Election Day.

The Political Game

August 25, 1998|By William F. Zorzi Jr. | William F. Zorzi Jr.,SUN STAFF

GOV. PARRIS N. Glendening was on a campaign binge last weekend, stopping at no fewer than 10 events, including a garden party thrown for him Sunday evening by the North Central Democratic Coalition in Baltimore.

Glendening, taking nothing for granted this year, spent the whirlwind weekend shuttling between Prince George's County and Baltimore to drive home the importance of getting out the vote against his likely opponent in the general election, Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey.

"This is about November," Glendening told a crowd of more than 200 supporters who gathered at the Northwood home of Ronald S. Cuffie and Lillian Jones-Cuffie. "This election will be won or lost based on turnout."

It is a theme that was repeated time and again by each of a handful of speakers Sunday, as the campaign sought to energize supporters behind Glendening.

He of the near-death experience -- you may recall Glendening's 5,993-vote, sliver-thin win over Sauerbrey in 1994 -- knows better than anyone that getting out the vote will again be crucial to a Democratic victory in the fall.

Many observers believe turnout could hit record lows in Maryland's Sept. 15 primary and Nov. 3 general elections.

The reason? Voters here, as around the nation, are generally fat and happy -- that is, financially comfortable -- and consequently not inclined to go to the polls.

Couple that with the fallout from President Clinton's fiasco with Monica Lewinsky and you have a dispirited and cynical electorate -- something that threatens to keep even more voters home Election Day.

That's bad for any candidate, but especially for Glendening, who is expected to face Sauerbrey in a rematch. Sauerbrey's supporters, many of them grass-roots true believers, have made her their cause and will come out to vote for her.

"We've got our work cut out for us," said Doris M. Johnson, a vice president of the North Central Democratic Coalition and long influential in the Coldstream- Homestead-Montebello community.

Glendening delivered what felt like the album version of his stump speech, prattling on as the heat, humidity and mosquito factor in the Cuffies' yard climbed higher.

In his remarks, Glendening stressed his record on education and vowed to do more -- with funding and an expanded scholarship program. He also pointed to his politics of "inclusion." Playing to a primarily African-American audience -- a mainstay of his political base -- he stressed his record of appointing more blacks, women and Hispanics to important positions.

He noted his appointment of Judge Robert M. Bell -- one of Baltimore's favorite sons -- to head the state's highest court as an example of his commitment. He also noted that he changed the rules on the way judges are nominated to provide for more diversity on the bench.

With this crowd, he was preaching to the choir.

The North Central Democratic Coalition is headed by Jones-Cuffie, a key community activist and early Glendening supporter. She, Johnson and others -- such as Marvin H. Masterson, a club board member who heads Glendening's office on minority affairs -- are the weight here and can turn out the vote. The coalition has more than 200 members with a board of about 50.

Club politics aside, what the Cuffie event did for Glendening was expose him to real people, real voters, friends of friends -- in this case, from all over the city and from the counties of Baltimore, Harford, Howard and even Frederick.

Sure, candidates for legislative seats, the city's sitting judges, and a couple of hopefuls for clerk of the court and central committee also attended.

But the attendees were basically regular folk, some with little more than a passing interest in politics, some who came with their children and grandchildren in tow, to meet the governor of the state of Maryland, one on one, on a Sunday evening.

McGuire wins endorsement of 3 E. Baltimore candidates

Terry McGuire, the Davidsonville Democrat running for governor, is hoping to tap into the Baltimore vote in his long-shot challenge to Gov. Parris N. Glendening.

Over the weekend, McGuire won the endorsement of three candidates for office in East Baltimore's 45th District -- three folks who also are underdogs against the powerful Eastside Democratic Organization's slate.

Backing McGuire are: Aaron Keith Wilkes, who is running for state Senate against incumbent Nathaniel J. McFadden; Doris Minor-Terrell, the three incumbent delegates' sole opponent in the Democratic primary; and Judy Saunders, a candidate for central committee.

Pub Date: 8/25/98

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