Campaign notes

June 29, 1998

Gov. Parris N. Glendening is supposedly one of the weakest incumbent governors in the nation, is facing a stiff primary challenge and has lost the support of the state's two most prominent black officials.

With those conditions, Republicans in Western Maryland - where Glendening lost every county four years ago - might be expected to line up against him.

But Republican mayors in the region have said very nice things about the governor in recent weeks.

Frederick, Md., Mayor James S. Grimes joined Glendening two weeks ago on a campaign stop in the city and praised his performance over the last four years.

Although he stopped short of an official endorsement, Grimes said he and Glendening enjoy a close working relationship.

"I know that when re-elected in November, he will continue to help the Frederick area," he said.

Grimes said he did not want to be disloyal to the Republican Party but wished Glendening well in the election.


"I know that what I am prepared to say may generate controversy " he said. "More than the governor, Parris is my friend. He has shown me respect and he has given me support when I have called."

Frostburg, Md., Mayor John Bambacus, a former Republican state senator, also heaped praise on Glendening. He said he endorsed Glendening because of the work he has done on behalf of small towns.

"I think Gov. Glendening has done a tremendous job for the state," he said. "He has stayed on his message. He's been very good on education and the environment He's just always been a very good friend to municipalities."

Bambacus, who was Glendening's doctoral student at the University of Maryland, said the governor helped get Frostburg money to build a water filtration plant and a new library.

Bambacus said Glendening also came to the region hours after it was damaged by tornadoes. He said that stands in contrast the impression of an elite, aloof figure some people have.

"I think the media has not portrayed him fairly," he said.

Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II, also a Republican, said he is undecided about the gubernatorial election.

Glendening campaign spokesman Peter Hamm said the governor has worked hard to build bipartisan support.

"This is a governor who puts politics aside," he said. "We expect to have a significant amount of Republican support in the general election."

Aides to Republican front-runner Ellen R. Sauerbrey said they were disappointed to lose the support of Grimes and Bambacus, but dismissed any long-term significance.

"If I was the governor's people, I'd be trying to find a silver lining in every rain cloud too," said Sauerbrey spokesman Jim Dornan.

'Parris' versus the 'extreme right wing'

Politics is as much about semantics as it is about policy debates, and the 1998 race for governor is shaping up to be a contest between who can better define their opponents with names.

In public, Glendening and his aides appear to take pains not to mention Sauerbrey by name. Instead, they call her things like "the candidate on the extreme right wing."

Is it a policy not to speak Sauerbrey's name?

Glendening campaign spokesman Len Foxwell said there is no policy but no need to name her, either.

"We just assume that when we talk about the candidate with the extremist right-wing agenda, people will know right off the bat who we're talking about," he said. "I don't think we really need to mention her."

Dornan said such labels are merely an attempt to scare voters.

"It's a little game that the governor likes to play," Dornan said. "He can pretend we're not there but he'll certainly know it on Nov. 4."

On the other hand, many Sauerbrey supports refer to the governor simply as "Parris," and drop his last name and title. Is it designed to reinforce the image of an elitist, aloof figure?

Dornan denied it.

Foxwell dismissed it.

"We don't spend a lot of time watching her press conferences," he said.

Voter registration sets record

The number of registered voters in Maryland has hit an all-time high, according to the state Board of Elections.

Of the 3.8 million residents who are eligible to vote, 2.7 million have registered, the board said.

There are 230,000 voters who have been placed on "inactive" status, which means they have moved from their last recorded address.

To be able to vote, an inactive voter must sign an affidavit on Election Day swearing that they still remain a resident of their listed county.

An inactive voter who does not vote in two consecutive federal general elections will lose voting privileges.

- Brendan Kirby

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