Debate appears to shore up expectations Voters leaning one way find no reason to change

October 24, 1998|By Jay Apperson and JoAnna Daemmrich | Jay Apperson and JoAnna Daemmrich,SUN STAFF

Relaxing with her husband in the living room of her home in Northeast Baltimore, Mary Lynn Swartz watched last night's gubernatorial debate and -- after weeks of uncertainty -- all but decided that her vote would go for Gov. Parris N. Glendening.

Meanwhile, Joseph I. Burgess watched the debate in the den of his home in District Heights and decided to follow his instinct -- vote for Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey.

With Glendening and Sauerbrey locked in a tight race, voters like Swartz and Burgess are expected to be a critical factor in the outcome of the Nov. 3 election.

In a recent poll for The Sun and other news organizations, 8

percent of the likely voters said they were undecided about the race. About another 25 percent of those polled said they were lukewarm in support of one of the candidates.

Trading shots last night in their first and only scheduled debate, the two candidates were undoubtedly trying to win over the undecided and lock up the votes of the not-so-sure.

Burgess, Swartz and others who said they were undecided in recent polls were interviewed after last night's debate.

Swartz, a Democrat, said she had gone from undecided to leaning toward Glendening by the time last night's debate began. And when it was over, she said, "I'll probably stick on that side."

She said she would likely look past Sauerbrey's charge that Glendening bases his decisions on politics instead of principle. "He still seems to be doing more positive things for Maryland," said Swartz, a 41-year-old Baltimore public school teacher.

Until the debate, Burgess, also a Democrat, was leaning toward Sauerbrey. But he liked some things about Glendening and had not made up his mind. But just minutes after the debate, he said, "After hearing what I heard tonight, I know who I'm going to vote for."

Burgess, a 77-year-old retired federal worker, said he felt Sauerbrey had better answers and better explanations of her voting record. He also said he opposes abortion, and even though Sauerbrey reiterated last night that she would keep intact Maryland's law guaranteeing abortion rights, he believes she would make changes.

"Abortion is one thing I have never believed in," he said. Burgess added, "I believe really in my mind now, Glendening has served four years, and I don't see a reason why they can't vote the woman in and see what happens in the next four years."

Penny K. Rumbaugh watched the debate from her home in Cascade, a Washington County community northwest of Hagerstown. Like Burgess, she came into the debate undecided but leaning toward Sauerbrey, and came out firmly decided.

"I'll definitely vote for Sauerbrey," she said.

Rumbaugh said Glendening seemed evasive. "He couldn't even answer a question that was given to him," said the 34-year-old warehouse worker, and a Republican. "He's arrogant."

She said she liked Sauerbrey's opposition to publicly financed football stadiums and her support for tax breaks for the elderly. Rumbaugh, who is from a family of avid hunters, said the final factor sealing her vote was her view of Sauerbrey as the "pro-gun" candidate.

"The main thing is the gun control," she said.

Martha G. Kolodkin, a Democrat, said she came into the debate inclined to vote for Glendening. Afterward, she said, "I'll probably sleep on it, but I'm closer to supporting Glendening at this point."

Kolodkin, a 41-year-old Internal Revenue Service employee from Pikesville, said, "I'm not sure that Sauerbrey really came up with a whole lot of things she would want to do differently. I think pTC Glendening did a pretty good job of explaining the positive things that he believes his administration accomplished, and what he would do in the future."

She also made this observation: "It definitely came out that the two of them can't stand each other. The looks they gave each other!"

Pub Date: 10/24/98

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