Townsend taking campaign on week bus tour

Democrat says purpose is `to learn about Maryland'

October 29, 2002|By David Nitkin | David Nitkin,SUN STAFF

NORTH EAST - The museum official was showing off the duck decoys and fishing nets that once earned this Cecil County community its livelihood.

"This is the heritage of this town," Upper Bay Museum President Bruce McQuillin told Kathleen Kennedy Townsend yesterday.

The Democratic candidate for governor was impressed, and wanted to know why her entourage wasn't around to see the same sights. "Get them off the bus," she told an aide. "The idea of the bus is that people learn about Maryland."

Townsend's campaign for governor launched a weeklong bus tour yesterday, part of a final push that she hopes will sway undecided voters and propel her to victory as it covers hundreds of miles.

"It energizes the core volunteers," she said. "We're going to cover most of the state."

Yesterday's leg started at Townsend's Mount Washington headquarters and made stops in Aberdeen, North East, Chestertown, Salisbury, Easton and Cambridge. With her 18-year-old daughter Kate leading an ever-changing cast of supporters in patriotic songs and pop tunes, the caravan passed through rural Eastern Shore counties that observers predict will be carried by her Republican opponent, Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

By the banks of a recently restored creek, Townsend was endorsed by the Maryland Recreational Fishing Alliance and the Maryland Saltwater Sportfisherman's Association.

"We fish, and we vote," said Michael Doebley, legislative director for the alliance's national organization. "Go fishing in the morning, but when you get home, go vote."

Townsend's famous family name took center stage during her last public stop of the day in Cambridge - not far from the spot where her uncle John F. Kennedy made an appearance during his 1960 campaign for president. Maryland was one of seven primary states that year.

In a speech, Townsend reaffirmed her commitment to Eastern Shore economic development, and outlined her opposition to slot machines - a revenue source backed by Ehrlich.

Many tourism-related businesses on the Shore fear that their livelihood would be hurt by casinos, said Ocean City Mayor James N. Mathias.

"She's really taken a strong stand, and it's bold of her to do that," said Cheryl Michael, a coordinator of the anti-gambling groups NoCasiNo of Dorchester County.

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