Choosing sides in State House race Why Ellen Sauerbrey will win

October 21, 1998|By Christopher R. West

ELLEN R. Sauerbrey will be elected governor Nov. 3 because she is the best candidate, has run the best campaign and will make the best governor.

She is a person of fundamental decency and integrity. Everyone who has worked with her, including politicians from both parties, acknowledges that when Ms. Sauerbrey gives you her word, you can take it to the bank. She does not switch gears every time the political winds change.

By contrast, Parris N. Glendening is known as a person whose word cannot be trusted. He changes position more frequently than a weather vane in a thunderstorm. This fall, for example, he has alternately embraced and dumped President Clinton several times.

You need to buy a newspaper each day just to find out whether on that day, Mr. Glendening and Mr. Clinton are buddies or estranged. Stories are legion about Mr. Glendening's promises to legislators or advocacy groups and then leaving them in a lurch.

Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke has called Mr. Glendening "unreliable, not credible." State Senate President Mike Miller, a Glendening ally, once said, "We need an honest governor, which rules out Parris."

A vision for the future

Over the past several months, Ms. Sauerbrey has articulated a compelling vision for moving Maryland into the 21st century. Its multiple planks focus like a laser on: 1) cutting taxes, particularly reducing the tax burden on our retirees; 2) emphasizing the fundamentals in our schools, especially a phonics-based reading program in the elementary grades; 3) hiring more than 1,000 teachers and ensuring that 90 percent of additional education funding goes into the classrooms, not school administrative offices; 4) cutting bureaucracy and regulations that impede small businesses from growing and creating new jobs; 5) aggressively targeting juvenile crime and toughening the state's minimum jail terms for criminals who commit crimes using guns; and 6) building the desperately needed Intercounty Connector from Rockville to Interstate 95 to alleviate Montgomery County's terrible traffic congestion.

By contrast, Mr. Glendening has not articulated any particular plans for the next four years. He has speculated that it might be a good idea to build a heavy rail line adjacent to the Washington Beltway at a cost of up to $15 billion, but he admits that he has no idea how to pay for it.

Maryland's gas tax is already the 12th highest in the nation; if the cost of this new rail line were to be paid solely through higher gas taxes, Maryland's gas tax would have to increase by about 50 cents a gallon. With the election less than two weeks away, Mr. Glendening has yet to offer a realistic program for the next four years.

The most visible manifestation of the lack of any Glendening vision for the future can be seen in his television advertisements. He has absolutely nothing positive to say about himself or his plans for Maryland, and so he is spending millions of dollars for 30-second ads that disparage Ms. Sauerbrey by attacking a handful of the more than 30,000 votes that she cast in her 16 years as a legislator.

Any hopes that the citizens of Maryland had for an uplifting or informative campaign this fall focusing on the future of the state have been dashed by Mr. Glendening's media campaign of vitriol and invective.

The campaigns mounted by the two candidates this fall speak volumes. Ms. Sauerbrey has raised her campaign funds principally from small contributors.

By contrast, nearly 75 percent of Mr. Glendening's contributions have been checks for more than $1,000 from lobbyists, people who are benefiting from state contracts and political action committees. One-third of his money has come from out of state.

Ms. Sauerbrey has put together an extraordinary grass-roots campaign across Maryland; by contrast, the Glendening grassroots campaign is nearly invisible. In Baltimore County, for example, which Mr. Glendening bragged several months ago that he was going to win, Sauerbrey yard signs far outnumber Glendening yard signs.

Each night, hundreds of Sauerbrey volunteers man phone banks at dozens of locations across the state calling voters to urge them to vote on Election Day; other volunteers meet to prepare mailings to undecided voters. There are scores of enthusiastic Sauerbrey volunteers across Maryland.

The Sauerbrey organization is working closely with Republican candidates for other state and local offices, and on Election Day, the voters will see a unified Republican team.

By contrast, in many parts of the state, Democratic candidates for other state and local offices are doing everything they can to distance themselves from Mr. Glendening. On Nov. 3, look to see if the local Democratic ticket literature includes the name and photograph of Mr. Glendening at the top of the ticket.

Finally, the reason Ms. Sauerbrey will win is because, during the past four years, she has reached out to voters in every jurisdiction while Mr. Glendening has alienated some key supporters.

Changing sides

Try searching for someone who voted for Ms. Sauerbrey in 1994 but now plans to vote for Mr. Glendening. I suspect that task will keep you busy for a while.

Now ask yourself whether you know of anyone who voted for Mr. Glendening in 1994 but plans to vote for Ms. Sauerbrey this time. Many people fall into that category, starting with some of the state's leading Democrats -- American Joe Miedusiewski, Mickey Steinberg, Jim Brady and Charles Benton. When the dust clears, Ms. Sauerbrey is going to be Maryland's first woman governor.

Christopher R. West is chairman of the Baltimore County Republican Party.

Pub Date: 10/21/98

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