Democrats victorious in Md. despite disunity Old alliance holds: Without Schmoke or Curry, Glendening gets out the vote and his message.

November 06, 1998

PARRIS N. Glendening proved the conventional wisdom wrong on Tuesday. In the process, the governor not only won a resounding victory but also showed that committed Democrats can win in Maryland even if some top leaders take a walk on Election Day.

When Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and Prince George's County Executive Wayne K. Curry gave the governor token endorsements, it was assumed Mr. Glendening would have trouble getting out the vote he needed in those majority-black jurisdictions.

Wrong. The governor turned for help to black churches, civic organizations, labor unions and other traditional sources of Democratic foot soldiers to produce a sophisticated and successful Election Day operation.

A larger-than-expected turnout proved critical. The governor generated interest in the race with the millions he spent on media ads attacking his opponent, Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey. These ads highlighted the stark contrasts between the progressive social programs Mr. Glendening has espoused and the conservative, anti-government proposals Ms. Sauerbrey endorsed during her 16-year legislative career.

Then by hammering away on themes dear to the hearts of traditional Democrats -- improving schools, protecting the environment, safeguarding abortion rights, supporting gun-control laws -- the governor energized his base constituency. It worked beautifully.

Having won a smashing victory, the governor might be tempted to reward his friends and isolate those who deserted him. That would be a mistake.

In his second term, Mr. Glendening needs to put past defections behind him. Serving as a unifier for Democratic officeholders is the best way for him to achieve his policy objectives.

Similarly, the governor ought to offer an olive branch to others who opposed him in this election.

The problems confronting the governor and General Assembly don't come with Democratic or Republican labels. They are people problems. Finding solutions and doing what is best for the state is what counts with voters.

Having been handed a resounding affirmation by voters, Mr. Glendening should seize the opportunity to bring this state together. His 1999 agenda should try to reach out to all parts of Maryland and avoid playing favorites.

His victory on Tuesday could be a springboard for better working relations with lawmakers in Annapolis and with elected chief executives around the state.

Pub Date: 11/06/98

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