Glendening appearance competes with the food Speech: The governor played to a packed house at the Stonewall Democratic Club in South Baltimore, but the bigger attraction might have been the Coney Island burgers.

The Political Game

September 08, 1998|By William F. Zorzi Jr. | William F. Zorzi Jr.,SUN STAFF

AS UNLIKELY A scene as it seems, Gov. Parris N. Glendening showed up in southern Baltimore last week for Coney Island Burger Night at the Stonewall Democratic Club.

Professor Glendening, who often can appear a tad awkward in such settings, rubbed elbows Wednesday night with the working stiffs and retirees who make up the organization, touted by members as the oldest surviving Democratic club in the state.

The professor played to a packed house of about 100 members and onlookers, who delivered a couple of rounds of friendly applause at the appropriate moments during his less-than-brief, off-the-cuff remarks.

It was hardly a roof-raiser at 1212 S. Charles St., but Glendening seemed to connect with the crowd and got not-so-predictable high marks from the incumbents of the 47th District.

"It was one of the few occasions when I've seen him absolutely relaxed," said Sen. George W. Della Jr., a loyal son of Stonewall.

"I didn't know this guy could give a speech before Wednesday," said Del. Brian K. McHale, Stonewall's president. Some were less enthusiastic.

It remains unclear whether the crowd was there to hear Glendening or to chow down in the night's other feature, Coney Island Hamburgers -- patties smothered in a concoction of tomato sauce, onions and green peppers, and a specialty of local restaurateur Billy Wedemeyer.

"It's really a flip of the coin," said one member, when asked what drew the crowd.

While about a dozen members lined up to shake Glendening's hand after his remarks, most of the crowd headed for the burgers, macaroni and cheese and cold draft beer. The governor lingered in the clubhouse afterward and partook of the spread.

State Democrats are paying a little more attention to South Baltimore and Locust Point this time around, apparently in an attempt to increase Glendening's margins in November, when he likely will face Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey in a rematch.

"I don't think he did very well in South Baltimore the last time," McHale said of Glendening's narrow win over Sauerbrey in 1994.

Earlier in the week, Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend dropped in at a community party on the Point, and House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr., the Allegany County Democrat, was the keynote speaker at a McHale fund-raiser two days later at Cross Street Market.

District shifts bring changes in club names

Speaking of Baltimore political clubs, two of them have undergone name changes in recent months, mostly because of the confusion brought about by shifting councilmanic and legislative district lines over the years.

The old 2nd District's New Democratic Club, known as NDC-2, has returned to its 30-year-old roots in Greater Charles Village and is again simply the New Democratic Club. The adjacent New Democratic Coalition of the Fifth District of Baltimore, or NDC-5 for short, has become NDC-North West.

Though political clubs seem almost an anachronism in these days of candidates' slick television ads and daily tracking polls, party officials will count on them to get out the vote in the general election this year -- when turnout numbers could very well hit record lows.

Sauerbrey cleans house in cookie baking awards

Nominated for Maryland's first Hillary Rodham Clinton Cookie Baking Award -- Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey.

Hard to believe that the two might have anything in common, but consider:

Clinton caused a furor, particularly among homemakers, in 1992 when she said she "could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas" as Arkansas' first lady, but instead decided to pursue her law career.

On Wednesday, Sauerbrey might have ventured onto similar turf.

During a daylong tour of Jewish community services in Rockville, Sauerbrey was pressing the flesh in the lobby of the Ring House retirement facility.

She walked up to one elderly man and introduced herself as a candidate for governor.

The man seemed receptive, saying, "It's about time we had a woman in there."

To which Sauerbrey replied, "Women know how to clean house, and Maryland needs a clean house."

Onlookers assumed she was referring to personnel at the Maryland State House, but the jury's still out.

Pub Date: 9/08/98

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