Among those most frequently advertising their electronic connections are Sauerbrey and Glendening. Locked in a tight rematch, both are looking for every vote, every volunteer and every campaign dollar they can get. Both campaigns say their sites are heavily used, and both have seen a significant increase in e-mail commentary in recent weeks.
On Oct. 14, in a matter of minutes, a dozen e-mail missives landed at the Sauerbrey campaign office in Towson. One supporter wrote, "Keep up the good work." An undecided voter complained about the barrage of negative TV ads. A third correspondent fretted that he would have to move to Virginia if she lost. And an elementary school girl sent a misspelled note:
"Dear Mrs. Shrubbery [sic]: In our social studies class, we need to find out about you and Governor Glen Dening [sic], so I was wondering if you could send me something about you and the race. Thank you very much. Oh yeah, if I could vote, I would vote for you."
Sauerbrey's Web page, which was professionally designed, features sharp graphics, a puzzle for children, and clearer photos than Glendening's. Her page lists her weekly public appearances -- and encourages visitors to donate money, instantly, by credit card.
The governor has a more standard home page, with fewer flourishes, created by a Johns Hopkins University student. His is not as up-to-date: as of Monday, it listed "50 days" until the Nov. 3 general election. But none of that deters eager political browsers.
In the past few days, a Republican sent a note promising to vote for Glendening because of his efforts to control suburban sprawl. A gun owner wrote that "your stance on firearms leaves me no choice but to vote for your opponent."
A regular critic questioned Glendening's latest ad: "Don't know that it played all that well. Would like to see emphasis on accomplishments with crime reduction, funding in education, tuition assistance for parents. Maryland is a better place than it was four years ago, so why not stick to the winning team that brought us these improvements?"
Such e-mail alerts Sauerbrey and Glendening to voters' concerns. Both have received questions, for instance, about their views on the death penalty, an issue that has not surfaced much in the campaign.
Equally important, both sides agree, the Internet helps voters feel connected in a direct way with the campaign -- and vice-versa. Sauerbrey likes to page through her messages, and Glendening's staff posts his on a wall in his office.
Karen White, the Glendening campaign manager, sometimes scrolls through the messages late at night. "When I can't get out of the office for a week," she says, "that's how I get to talk to real people."
Pub Date: 10/21/98