Attention turns to turnout as governor's race ends Glendening, Sauerbrey aim to make sure their backers head to the polls

November 01, 1998|By C. Fraser Smith and William F. Zorzi Jr | C. Fraser Smith and William F. Zorzi Jr,SUN STAFF Sun staff writers JoAnna Daemmrich, Laura Lippman and Thomas W. Waldron contributed to this article.

With the end of an arduous and acrimonious campaign for governor at hand, Maryland voters are being bombarded by high-tech and clubhouse electioneering -- highlighted by President Clinton, former Sen. Bob Dole and the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson.

Driving for the highest possible turnout of their supporters for Tuesday's election, Democratic Gov. Parris N. Glendening and his Republican challenger, Ellen R. Sauerbrey, are making a final sweep across the state as their parties intensify the push toward Tuesday's election.

A final weekend blitz of TV commercials -- made possible by at least $12 million in campaign contributions raised by the two camps -- aims to further energize partisans on both sides of what is a very tight race. The money spent in this general election campaign will be far in excess of the previous record.

Both parties, joined by coalitions of community, special interest and religious organizations, are telling voters the stakes could not be higher in a still-Democratic state where Republicans have made steady gains over the past dozen years.

"Pull out all your phone lists, your Christmas card lists, your Republican club membership lists, whatever. Call your friends," Sauerbrey said yesterday on her statewide bus tour. "We know we're going to win the Eastern Shore; the question is how many people turnout to vote.

"Don't leave a stone unturned," she urged a crowd of about 50 supporters outside the Dorchester County Republican Party headquarters in Cambridge.

On the Democratic side, a major effort will be made in Baltimore, where Glendening needs a strong showing from one of his core constituencies: blacks.

Because Democrats outnumber Republicans in Maryland by almost 2 to 1, the higher the turnout the better for Glendening. A low turnout, many believe, would favor Sauerbrey.

The highlight of the Democrats' final weekend drive will be Clinton's appearance this morning at New Psalmist Baptist Church in West Baltimore.

Jackson is scheduled to appear at Union Baptist Church in Baltimore at 6 p.m. tomorrow.

Dole attended a Sauerbrey fund-raiser last night at the BWI Airport Marriott, where the speakers included two prominent state Democrats -- Harford County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann, who ran against Glendening in the primary, and Clarence M. Mitchell III, a former state senator from West Baltimore.

Linda H. Lamone, head of the state elections board, says her staff believes about 57 percent of the state's nearly 2.6 million voters will make it to the polls -- down from 1994, when turnout was 61 percent. Her predecessor at the state board, Gene M. Raynor, predicts 58 percent.

The winner of the state's last gubernatorial election this century will set the tone of government as the 21st century opens.

By virtually inundating the state with campaign brochures, sample ballots, phone calls and personal visits, the parties hope to disprove a lingering prediction that voters are too complacent, too confused or too unconcerned to show up at the polls.

Community rally

In Baltimore yesterday, Kweisi Mfume, a former Democratic congressman, and Taylor Branch, a Baltimore author who has chronicled the civil rights movement, spoke to a group of about 50 ministers and community activists -- a precursor to a citywide Get-Out-The-Vote caravan.

"It is extremely important to take advantage of the next 72 hours," said Mfume, who insisted he was speaking as a private citizen -- and not as president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Mfume took shots at Sauerbrey, echoing Democratic charges that she has been racially insensitive, citing her civil rights voting record in the General Assembly. He also criticized her votes against education and gun-control measures. He urged city ministers to use the power of the pulpit to remind voters that "you either vote or you lose."

In the escalating ad campaign on the race issue, Sauerbrey countered with a new TV ad yesterday, hoping to defuse some of the support for Glendening among African-American voters.

The new ad refers to comments made by Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and two other black political figures, rejecting the implication of a Glendening ad that Sauerbrey may have been racist in voting against certain civil rights legislation. It also mentions Glendening's earlier snub of Clinton, who is extremely popular with black voters.

Meanwhile, in Montgomery County, where about a fifth of the state's votes for governor are likely to be cast, precinct workers showed up for a lawn party at the family home of Del. Mark K. Shriver, a Democrat who represents an increasingly Republican district.

The Shrivers combined their traditional fall party with a large rally at their Potomac home. By 1 p.m., more than 2,300 people had signed in, and people were still streaming through the driveway's portals.

"This is grass-roots politics at its finest," said Shriver, the host for the party that was held at his parents' home.

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