Candidates making last bus stops Final days filled with nonstop stumps to get out the vote

Campaign 1998

October 31, 1998|By Jay Apperson and Laura Lippman | Jay Apperson and Laura Lippman,SUN STAFF

With three days left before Tuesday's election, the two candidates for governor are running on fumes -- bus fumes, that is.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening and Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey began touring the state yesterday in tour buses full of supporters, the first day in what is to be a long weekend of campaign stops at senior citizen homes, factories, festivals and anywhere else unsuspecting voters might linger.

"I'd be honored to have your vote," Glendening said to those who admitted to still being undecided. "We need every vote we can."

Likewise, Sauerbrey pitched her tax cut plan to Marylanders, calling on her followers to vote for her -- and to push others to do the same.

"Pull out all the stops. Turn on all the energy you have over the next few days," she told supporters at a rally in Frederick. "We're going to win this election because people like you are going to be working the phones, getting out the vote."

Glendening began the day at 6 a.m., circling Sauerbrey's home base of Baltimore County counter-clockwise, from Bethlehem Steel and Sparrows Point to Parkville, Pikesville and Catonsville. He spent the afternoon in Prince George's County, his home turf, for an afternoon of hand-shaking and sign-waving.

Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend had intended to campaign with the governor, but left the bus mid-morning after receiving news that her father-in-law, L. Raymond Townsend, had died.

Buoyed by recent polls that show him ahead, Glendening appeared to enjoy being on the stump yesterday, even outing himself as a Trekkie when greeted by a young woman in the uniform of the Starship Enterprise.

Voters' reactions ran the gamut, from great warmth to downright petulance.

At Bethlehem Steel, Glendening found himself wondering if the workers had been to a recent rally, for so many used exactly the same phrasing: "You saved our jobs, now we'll save yours."

In Northwest Baltimore, some seniors cheerfully scolded him about his failure to support slot machines. However, Sen. Paula C. Hollinger proved adept at finding pro-Glendening voters outside the busy Pikesville Giant, even as some disgruntled shoppers elbowed their way through the crowd of Democrats.

The Glendening-Townsend ticket was a harder sell at the "sister campuses" of Oak Crest Village and Charlestown Senior Center, self-contained residential complexes so large that each has its own voting precinct.

"I'd like to have your vote," the governor said to Tom Foster, a retired city school administrator who works as an election judge at Oak Crest. "I'm sure you would," Foster replied noncommittally.

Betty Timberlake, who moved to Maryland from North Carolina earlier this year, said the governor may have won her vote just by shaking her hand and taking time to ask her questions about her home state.

"It really did make a difference," she said. "I met [Sauerbrey] two to three weeks ago, and I told her I was from North Carolina and she just brushed me off. He didn't. I know it's all political, but still."

Later, Foster noted that residents at Oak Crest are surprisingly reticent about politics. "People this age grew up around dining room tables, trained by their parents not to discuss politics or religion. I haven't heard any political discussions or any depth at all."

But they turn out to vote. Oak Crest, which didn't exist in the 1994 election, had 57 percent turnout in the primaries and Foster expects that more than 80 percent will vote next week. "To watch people come here with walkers and canes and vision problems -- it really makes a comment on the commitment of these voters."

At Charlestown, a few of the complex's 2,000-plus residents attended the noon-time meeting, which featured not only Glendening, but Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski and Attorney General J. Joseph Curran. But the media ranks following Glendening had been steadily swelling all day, with Japanese and BBC film crews now trailing him.

Comptroller candidate William Donald Schaefer showed up for one of the Baltimore appearances, at Myerberg Northwest Senior Center. There, he delighted residents with his impromptu participation in a strength-training class, taking off his jacket and going through the various moves, albeit without hand weights.

Unlike Mikulski, he did not take a turn on the bus.

The "Sauerbrey Country Bus Tour" began the day meeting voters in the town of Oakland's village square. From there, the campaign's two buses headed east, passing mountains clad in autumnal gold and stopping to meet with conservatives who helped her carry Western Maryland in the 1994 election.

Near Hancock, the buses pulled off Interstate 70 and parked in front of Hepburn Orchards Fruit Market. Owner Terry Hepburn ** greeted the entourage.

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