Glendening campaign makes stop at church for BUILD meeting Governor also shows at fair, gay nightclub

October 19, 1998|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF

Gov. Parris N. Glendening moved to energize his base during a series of stops in Baltimore yesterday, including a rousing meeting of a church-affiliated political action group that promises to turn out 10,000 voters for the Nov. 3 election.

On a campaign swing that took him from a street fair in Highlandtown to a crowded church in one of West Baltimore's poorest neighborhoods to a gay nightclub in Mount Vernon, the governor touched base with a diverse group of Democratic constituencies.

A strong turnout in Baltimore is seen as vital to his hopes of defeating Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey in the election.

The largest event of the day was Glendening's visit to a crowded St. Edward Roman Catholic Church on Poplar Grove Street to meet with Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development (BUILD) -- a group that is seeking to mobilize voters in support of urban-oriented programs.

About 1,500 people turned out for what was billed as an opportunity for the two gubernatorial candidates to respond to BUILD's program, but only Glendening showed up to praise its "compassionate agenda." Going point by point, the governor promised to support BUILD's call for spending on Baltimore school construction, parks and recreation, after-school programs and drug addiction treatment services.

As a nonprofit group, BUILD cannot endorse candidates, but its members' enthusiastic welcome for the governor left little doubt as to where their sympathies lie.

Sauerbrey's failure to appear -- after she declined a similar invitation before the Sept. 15 primary -- angered many in the group. BUILD organizers added that the Sauerbrey campaign had also turned away overtures from the group seeking a private meeting.

The Rev. K. Aaron Lee, one of three BUILD co-chairmen, underscored the perceived "disrespect" in his introduction of Glendening.

"Today you will hear from the two leading candidates running for governor -- each in their own way," he said. After introducing Sauerbrey, he paused until laughter began to break the silence.

"No show," said Lee, of Trinity Presbyterian Church on Walbrook Avenue in Southwest Baltimore.

Campaign spokesman Jim Dornan said Sauerbrey, who was campaigning yesterday in the Washington suburbs, apparently had a scheduling conflict and was not avoiding the group.

"We'll be more than happy to meet with them after Ellen is governor," Dornan said.

But Glendening was working hard yesterday to make sure that meeting never takes place. The normally reserved governor delivered an impassioned attack on Sauerbrey -- noting a quote in which the Republican complained of taxes being used to support "the lazy and the immoral."

Earlier, Glendening appeared with Democratic officeholders at a Highlandtown street fair, where he praised the state's $1.3 million contribution to the redevelopment of Eastern Avenue as an example of his Smart Growth policy.

Last night, he met with members of Baltimore's gay community at an AIDS fund-raiser at the Hippopotamus nightclub.

Pub Date: 10/19/98

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