Sauerbrey takes fight to enemy turf In Prince George's, GOP candidate says she'll concede no area

Decries federal prison plan

Ex-Lt. Gov. Steinberg to announce support of challenger today

Campaign 1998

September 17, 1998|By Laura Lippman and JoAnna Daemmrich | Laura Lippman and JoAnna Daemmrich,SUN STAFF Sun staff writers Thomas W. Waldron and William F. Zorzi Jr. contributed to this article.

OXON HILL -- Ellen R. Sauerbrey started her first day as the Republicans' official gubernatorial candidate by throwing down a gauntlet in Gov. Parris N. Glendening's back yard -- and picking up a notable Democratic endorsement.

She came to the Potomac riverfront in Prince George's County to decry a federal prison that has been proposed for the site. But Sauerbrey was happy to acknowledge that the location had an even greater significance to her campaign.

"We're certainly here to say we're not ceding any area of the state to Parris Glendening," said Sauerbrey.

She went on to denigrate Glendening's record as Prince George's County executive. Prince George's, Baltimore City and Montgomery County were the only jurisdictions that Glendening won in his narrow victory over Sauerbrey in 1994.

Symbolism will also be at work for Sauerbrey today, with a press conference planned at the Pikesville home of her newest backer, former Lt. Gov. Melvin A. Steinberg, who lost to Glendening in the 1994 gubernatorial primary. At that campaign's end, Steinberg attacked Glendening's integrity and record as Prince George's County executive.

Yesterday, Sauerbrey said she opposed the federal prison planned for the Prince George's site because it is inappropriate for a residential community and might jeopardize plans for a nearby, billion-dollar, retail-and-resort center, the National Harbor.

Asked if this meant that she thought the minimum-wage jobs created by retailers were preferable to prison jobs, Sauerbrey reiterated her support for the National Harbor project, concluding: "I don't go to a single event in Prince George's

County where people don't beg for upscale shopping."

She also decried the prison's effect on the environment, though environmentalists oppose the National Harbor proposal.

Despite the effort to make the prison a campaign issue, no state or local officials want the prison, which would be privately run, said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. "It's a federal issue that local legislators were not aware of" until recently, he said.

Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski and U.S. Rep. Albert R. Wynn will try to get the project relocated, Miller said, adding, "Hopefully, they've got enough stick to do that."

National Harbor's developer, Milton V. Peterson, is waiting for the National Capital Planning Commission to finish an environmental review for the 534-acre parcel. The County Council voted 8-1 in June to approve the site plan, with some modifications.

Earlier yesterday, a beaming Sauerbrey embraced and shook hands with more than 200 party faithful at a GOP unity breakfast in Annapolis. Her defeated primary opponent, Charles I. Ecker, did not attend, but he sent a letter congratulating Sauerbrey and pledging his support.

"Let's get out there," she urged the breakfast crowd. "Let's fight, let's win, and let's change the future of Maryland."

In the crowd were a number of Republican legislators, celebrating their victories as well as hers, and one determined to show good will in defeat -- John W. Derr, the Senate minority whip who was ousted by an anti-abortion candidate. While some consoled Derr, a Frederick County moderate, others shook hands with the victor, 27-year-old Alexander Mooney.

There were other hints of strain amid the calls for GOP solidarity.

Sauerbrey promised to support whoever won the GOP nomination for state comptroller, though her hand-picked choice for the job, Michael Steele, lost.

But Larry M. Epstein, leading by a few hundred votes yesterday, was the campaign treasurer for Sauerbrey's 1994 Republican rival, Helen D. Bentley. And Timothy R. Mayberry -- in a close second, as he and Epstein await a count of absentee ballots -- was bothered by her endorsement of Steele and skipped the breakfast. The counting of the ballots is expected to be completed early next week.

While the mood at the breakfast was celebratory, Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Baltimore County Republican, managed several barbed attacks on the incumbent governor. Ehrlich recalled Glendening's 1996 trip by corporate jet to a New York fund-raiser held by the president of a company bidding on a state contract.

"There's this other part of the culture of Annapolis where you're on a plane, and you don't know where you're going, and then you're at a fund-raiser ," he said.

Pub Date: 9/17/98

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