Schoenke says he's a challenger - no fooling

April 02, 1998|By BRENDAN KIRBY

Ray Schoenke was in Hagerstown Wednesday to drum up interest in his fledgling campaign for governor.

He acknowledged that it seems like a longshot for a little-known, former Washington Redskin with no history in elective office.

"A lot of you are going to think this is an April Fool's joke. This guy must be nuts," he said during a luncheon address at the Hagerstown Rotary Club at the Venice Inn.

But Schoenke said it wouldn't be the first time he has overcome long odds.

After graduating from Southern Methodist University as an athletic and academic All-American, Schoenke played two seasons for the Dallas Cowboys and was cut in the third.

"There was no way I was ever supposed to play pro football. And guess what? I played 12 years," he said.


During his football career, Schoenke became active in Democratic Party politics, organizing Athletes for McGovern in 1972. After his playing days ended, the Laytonsville resident founded an insurance company.

Now, Schoenke, 56, is taking aim at Gov. Parris N. Glendening, whom he supported four years ago but hopes to defeat in the primary election.

Schoenke criticized Glendening for pledging millions of taxpayer dollars to build a football stadium for the Baltimore Ravens.

Schoenke said he would work to make Maryland a "pro-business" state.

Schoenke also promised to make education the centerpiece of his campaign, starting with a commitment to ensure no more than 20 students per classroom.

Schoenke said he would pay for the proposal in part by allowing slot machines at horse-racing tracks, a position Glendening opposes.

Glendening campaign officials dismissed Schoenke's criticisms.

"Mr. Schoenke doesn't seem to have any real plans for Maryland except more gambling," said Peter Hamm, the Glendening campaign's communications director.

Hamm praised Glendening's record on economic development, noting that Maryland has jumped from 49th to 23rd in job creation over the last four years.

Schoenke said he intends to step up his campaign in the coming weeks and plans to begin airing television commercials soon.

"Right now, I'm not even on the radar screen," he said. "But I will be."

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