Governor focuses on black voters Sauerbrey campaign accuses him of using 'race-baiting' tactics

Campaign 1998

October 22, 1998|By Thomas W. Waldron and JoAnna Daemmrich | Thomas W. Waldron and JoAnna Daemmrich,SUN STAFF

Gov. Parris N. Glendening trolled for votes in Baltimore and Prince George's County yesterday, campaigning with two key allies on a day devoted to generating enthusiasm among African-Americans.

Glendening outlined a new minority loan program, won the endorsement of a minority contractors group and happily put in appearances with Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and Prince George's County Executive Wayne K. Curry, who had feuded with the governor before offering their endorsements two weeks ago.

Along the way, Glendening and other Democrats stepped up their rhetorical attacks on Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey, casting her as a bad choice for black voters in the Nov. 3 election, someone who would "turn back the clock on African-American progress."

A Sauerbrey spokeswoman sharply disputed such comments, calling Glendening's tactics "race-baiting," and said Sauerbrey would continue to campaign for support among black voters.

For the second time this week, Glendening campaigned with Curry.

The erstwhile enemies chatted with pupils, cracked jokes and posed for photographs at Apple Grove Elementary near Oxon Hill.

At one point, Glendening threw his arms around Curry and quipped, "If our man says that's what we're going to do, we're going to do it."

Both men said they were putting past quarrels aside to work to keep a Democrat in the governor's mansion in the face of the spirited Republican challenge.

"With Wayne, like with every elected official, you have your agreements and disagreements," Glendening said. "But there's one thing we absolutely agree on, and that's the importance of education."

Said Curry: "I'm delighted that we agree that education, that taking care of our children, that advancing our schools is the most important thing in office. Politics is a team sport."

During his time in Baltimore, the governor proposed a new $2 million loan fund to help small and minority-owned businesses. Later, Glendening was joined by Schmoke to announce a deal to redevelop an empty state-owned building on Howard Street.

In between, the governor picked up the endorsement of the Maryland Minority Contractors Association, whose president, Arnold M. Jolivet, praised Glendening for helping increase the percentage of state contracts earmarked for minority-owned firms.

In his remarks, Glendening bashed Sauerbrey for opposing such programs and reminded the group he had appointed Robert M. Bell to be the state's first African-American chief judge.

Glendening added that Sauerbrey was critical of the appointment at the time. He asserted that Sauerbrey had told others that Bell, a longtime veteran of the state courts, was "not qualified" for the job.

"I ask you, what is it that possibly made him not qualified?" Glendening said. "We all know the answer to that."

Glendening hedged when asked what he was implying with the comment. "You have to ask her that," Glendening told a reporter. "How is it possible he's not qualified?"

Carol L. Hirschburg, a spokeswoman for Sauerbrey, disputed Glendening's assertions. "Ellen has never said that Judge Bell is not qualified," Hirschburg said. She said Sauerbrey had merely expressed concerns about Bell's votes in several cases against imposing the death penalty.

"I think [Glendening's] inference is scurrilous and unconscionable," Hirschburg said.

The Maryland Democratic Party is distributing campaign literature in Baltimore stating that Sauerbrey "would turn back the clock on African-American progress" and accusing her of "a callous disregard for the rights of minorities."

In response, Hirschburg said, "His attempt to play the race card is pathetic and shows his desperation."

Sauerbrey, too, is seeking support from black voters, meeting last night with a group of minority lawyers and doctors and with black supporters in Prince George's today.

"Ellen has been working for four years to reach out to the African-American community, to let them know that she plans for her administration to be inclusive," Hirschburg said.

The governor and others are also criticizing Sauerbrey for comments she made in a 1995 speech in Virginia, in which she said the American worker's taxes are "used to reward the lazy and the immoral."

Pub Date: 10/22/98

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