Glendening wins race for second term Heavy turnout: Attack ads pay off for governor, who rolls to victory along with most Democrats.

November 04, 1998

MARYLAND'S most negative gubernatorial campaign in 32 years ended last night with incumbent Parris N. Glendening coasting to victory, thanks to an expensive barrage of attack ads that helped rally traditional Democrats.

Mr. Glendening's victory this time was far broader -- and emphatically more decisive -- than four years ago, when he won just three jurisdictions. This time he swept through the Baltimore-Washington corridor, taking Montgomery, Prince George's and Howard counties as well as Baltimore City, running close in Baltimore County, winning Allegany County and narrowing the winning margin of Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey everywhere else.

He did it largely by blasting Ms. Sauerbrey for alleged anti-civil rights votes and for stubborn opposition in the past to gun laws and access to abortions. By portraying Ms. Sauerbrey as a dangerous right-winger, Mr. Glendening kept her on the defensive in the final crucial days and apparently persuaded traditional Democrats to vote the party ticket.

Equally important was the last-minute support the governor received from President Clinton, an ironic twist of events given the governor's earlier rebuke of Mr. Clinton for his sexual misbehavior. The president's appearance in Baltimore on Sunday stirred enthusiasm in Baltimore among African-American voters, who turned out in far larger numbers than expected at the polls. Also playing a role were get-out-the-vote efforts by groups around the city, including BUILD and the Baltimore Urban League.

Turnout proved the key. So did the governor's insistent hammering away at his opponent's 16-year conservative voting record in the House of Delegates. Ms. Sauerbrey, who lost the governorship by just 5,996 votes in 1994, moderated her views this time, but she could not erase two decades of strident right-wing stances. The governor's harsh ads made sure of that.

Marylanders went to the polls in greater-than-expected numbers most jurisdictions. This state's most expensive campaign helped stimulate voter interest far more than anticipated. It also helped that voters knew the two candidates extremely well after their near-dead heat four years ago.

Democrats swept the other statewide races, with former Gov. William Donald Schaefer beginning a second career as the state's next comptroller, succeeding the venerated Louis L. Goldstein. J. Joseph Curran Jr. easily won a fourth term as attorney general, and Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski brushed away token GOP opposition for another six-year term.

Control of the General Assembly remained even more firmly in Democratic hands, with Republicans apparently failing to gain ground in the state Senate.

While Baltimore County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger, a Democrat, breezed to victory, first-term incumbent Anne Arundel County Executive John A. Gary lost decisively to Democrat Janet S. Owens. Chalk that one up to Mr. Gary's verbal brawls over education that alienated teachers and parents.

In Harford County, Republican county executive candidate James Harkins won his race; in Howard County, Democrat James N. Robey was on his way to winning the executive's contest easily.

Still, the night belonged to Mr. Glendening. He withstood defections from Democratic officeholders and former party leaders, who attacked his integrity. And he withstood complaints about his lack of a galvanizing personality.

He did so by mounting a highly effective get-out-the-vote drive -- aided by state legislative and congressional incumbents -- and by stressing his solid, progressive record of achievements over the past four years. That is what voters admired and supported at the polls yesterday.

Pub Date: 11/04/98

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