Primary choices Governor's main rival is physician McGuire

The Democrats

September 06, 1998|By C. Fraser Smith

Gov. Parris N. Glendening wants Marylanders to grant him a second four-year term so he can build on programs and policies that he says have improved the quality of life in every part of the state.

He cites such accomplishments as careful stewardship of the Chesapeake Bay in a time of crisis, a record school-construction program, a 10-percent income tax cut, renewed focus on high-crime "hot spots," and adamant opposition to expansion of gambling via slot machines or casinos.

Persistently poor job-performance ratings in various polls led some observers to wonder if Marylanders connect Glendening with these accomplishments, so he has been using his powers of incumbency to grab their attention.

During the last two months, budget surpluses have allowed him to announce grants and programs totaling at least $95 million. They include:

* $25 million to protect from development 1,850 acres of land at Chapman's Landing in Charles County.

* $10 million for anti-crime measures.

* $49.7 million for new road projects, bus service and transportation planning in Montgomery and Prince George's counties.

* $10.7 million to buy Smith Farm and turn it into a Howard County park.

Asked to comment on such moves, the 56-year-old Democrat insisted he has made them only when they were ready to be made. "That's just when things happen to roll out," he said.

Glendening - with little strong opposition in the Democratic primary - appears positioned to emerge from the Sept. 15 vote in better-than-expected shape.

Feared by some as a potentially ruinous intra-party bloodletting, the primary fight fizzled more than a month before the balloting, as two major Democratic challengers made minor headway this summer. Glendening has the luxury of hoarding his robust campaign fund for his likely fall match with Republican front-runner Ellen R. Sauerbrey.

Former Washington Redskins football player Raymond F. Schoenke Jr. spent $2 million of his fortune without creating a ripple in the electoral pool. A millionaire insurance executive, he withdrew July 6, endorsing Glendening and calling him unbeatable.

Harford County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann, unable to raise another $1 million to put her message on television, dropped out Aug. 10.

Rehrmann's name remains on the Sept. 15 ballot because she quit the campaign after the official withdrawal deadline. If she gains votes, they might reflect hard-core opposition to Glendening, but that seems remote.

Still in the fray is Dr. Terry McGuire, 56, a Davidsonville physician who has spent a half-million dollars of his money to finance a primary challenge characterized by a full array of issue positions and plenty of roadside sign waving.

McGuire is a pro-labor, anti-abortion candidate. He promises to get tougher on criminals, to distribute higher-education funding on a more equitable basis, to relieve farmers of unfair regulations, and to capture a bonanza of gambling revenue - if voters in various localities approve slot machines in local referendums.

McGuire's name was recognized by only about 1 percent of the Democratic voters in a recent poll, leading to the question, "Why has he remained in the race?" But McGuire has pinned his hopes on the belief that voters will find him a refreshing alternative.

He has been particularly critical of Glendening on gambling: "The governor had no moral opposition to wide-open casino gambling in PG County for 12 years, no moral opposition to [lottery] money to pay for the Ravens stadium and Oriole Park, and no concern about keno in every establishment and bar in Maryland. I believe he's talking on both sides of his mouth on slots."

Also on the ballot is Lawrence K. Freeman, a 47-year-old writer from Catonsville and a follower of Lyndon LaRouche, the controversial right-wing activist.

Glendening's campaign highlights are covered in television commercials running on Baltimore-area stations: the income tax

cut, increased spending on education, reduced handgun sales, and his fight against the toxic microbe Pfiesteria that threatens Chesapeake water quality, the fish industry and human health.

In his campaign report to the voters, Glendening acknowledges his partnership with the state legislature that passed many of his initiatives after considerable squabbling. Glendening was often a tough negotiator but compromised liberally to win passage of reshaped versions of his proposals. Two products of this approach - the land and resource preservation measure called Smart Growth, and his bill to combat fertilizer runoff linked to Pfiesteria - earned him national attention.

Maryland's surging economy allowed him to propose a 10

percent income tax cut in 1997, though he resisted the idea at first. The schedule for the cut was accelerated, and taxpayers are getting the first 5 percent reduction this year.

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