Glendening intrudes Schaefer fumes

September 24, 1998|By MICHAEL OLESKER

ON THE NIGHT Parris N. Glendening won his party's renomination to be governor of Maryland, he blithely showed up at William Donald Schaefer's private victory celebration at the Harbor Inn at Pier 5, where he was treated like an advanced case of cholera.

"Did you invite him here?" Schaefer whispered to John Paterakis, the owner of the hotel and the H&S Bakery.

"Not me," Paterakis whispered back. "He's the last guy I expected to see."

"Well," said Schaefer, who was celebrating his primary victory in the race for state comptroller, "what's he doing here?"

There were about 15 Democrats in the hotel's Presidential Suite before Glendening arrived with a few of his aides. They were politicians and advisers and people with big money, all of whom attempted to look preoccupied when the governor glanced their way. Most were crammed into one corner of the room, and the governor and his people stood in another. One Glendening aide, seeing Paterakis edging slightly toward the governor, asked, "Were you invited to this party?"

"It is my suite," declared Paterakis, "and my hotel. And, frankly, I'm trying to figure out who invited you."

From here, it got slightly worse. Only House Speaker Casper R. Taylor approached Glendening to talk, and no one exchanged more than perfunctory greetings with the governor, according to witnesses, until the entire gathering trooped into a larger room minutes later where supporters and television cameras were waiting.

"That's the only reason Glendening's here," said one longtime Schaefer associate. "He needs that TV shot with Schaefer. He wants some of Schaefer to rub off on him. And Schaefer doesn't want to give it to him."

In front of cameras that night, the Democrats talked endlessly about party unity but not specifically about Glendening. When the governor spoke, Schaefer faded to a corner of the stage, out of most people's view, where he averted his eyes until Glendening left for his own victory party in College Park. Schaefer was fuming that Glendening had first crashed his party and then given himself a speaking role.

Two weeks later, he's still fuming. And Glendening is feeling heat from several corners. There's a new Mason-Dixon poll showing Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey with a one-point leader over the governor. Former Lt. Gov. Melvin A. "Mickey" Steinberg has announced his support for Sauerbrey. And, through mutual friends, Schaefer himself has now made overtures to Sauerbrey.

"We're not talking about an endorsement," says one Schaefer confidant. "It's more like an evolutionary thing, where they sit down to talk, they exchange ideas, and maybe their names show up on the same campaign literature. But there's no way he wants to campaign for Glendening."

Part of this is Schaefer's feeling that Glendening ignored him for four years, and part of it is the confusion after the death of Louis L. Goldstein, the revered state comptroller who was expected to live forever. When Goldstein died just days before filing deadlines, Schaefer asked Glendening for the job. Glendening stiffed him. Schaefer nurtures some grudges for years; holding one until Election Day is a piece of cake for him.

Also, it's not entirely out of character for him to jump party lines. Schaefer's tight with former Rep. Helen Delich Bentley. He's friendly with Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. And six years ago, he endorsed George Bush for president.

What's more, he's surrounded by people who have genuine antipathy for the current governor. Some of this is based on distrust, some on regionalism, and some on specific issues.

The man who put together the private victory party at the Harbor Inn, for example, was Paterakis, who's been Schaefer's pal for years. Paterakis wants gambling in Maryland, and Glendening has stood in the way. Paterakis, a longtime big-money guy for the Democrats, is talking of raising money for Sauerbrey.

All of this makes Glendening's autumn look pretty rough. He runs a state that's in pretty good shape, but he hasn't convinced voters that he deserves much credit for it. He's fulfilled a lot of promises he made four years ago, but hasn't escaped some terrible first impressions he gave people on Prince George's County finances, on a sweetheart pension deal and on illegal racetrack money.

And he's got people in his own party, on whose support he once counted, who are now making it clear to him: Don't count on us. Some of them don't even like Sauerbrey. But their feelings for Glendening run deep -- and dark.

Pub Date: 9/24/98

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