Now it's going to get ugly

September 22, 1998

Tim RowlandFor people who respect ugliness for the entertainment that it is, the next 40 days promise to be a real hootenanny thanks to Glendening-Sauerbrey II, the Evisceration at Camden Station.

Both candidates have promised this will be a positive campaign, which it no doubt will be in the same sense that Vesuvius was a positive development for the buzzards.

Meanwhile volunteer firefighters across the state are on standby in case they have to use the Jaws of Life to pry the candidates' fingers from around their opponents' throats.

These two really don't like each other.

For nearly two decades, Sauerbrey carved her niche as the General Assembly's conservative hellcat, raising Cain with the big spenders who were wont to sink untold sums of cash into such nonsensical wastes as sports stadiums, equestrian centers and schools.


Everyone thought she was nuts four years ago when she ran for governor. But first she knocked out the favorite, Helen Bentley, in the Republican primary before coming up just a few thousand votes short of blindsiding Mr. Textbook in the general election.

Alleging widespread voter fraud and claims of dead people casting ballots, Sauerbrey went to court, hanging onto hope as a blue crab hangs to a chicken neck.

When she finally conceded about three weeks ago, she immediately geared up for the 1998 challenge, which is where we are today.

The race has gotten off to a cantankerous start, with Glendening's people claiming that Sauerbrey is too conservative, while Sauerbrey's people are claiming that Glendening is too - well, conservative.

Four years ago, Sauerbrey campaigned on her opposition to abortion rights, gun control and school spending. That didn't work, so this time around she's campaigning on her support of abortion rights, gun control and school spending. Glendening, for his part, swore four years ago that Sauerbrey's proposed income tax cut would wreck the state's economy. Which explains why, immediately upon election, Glendening cut income taxes.

Now, perhaps bitter that the income tax cut did not wreck the state's economy, Glendening is proposing to cut taxes again. And again and again and again, until the economy is bloody well wrecked, by gum, and he is proved right.

It may appear as if Maryland is being treated to some cruel, political version of the movie "Face Off" where the Nicholas Cage and the John Travolta characters swap looks and identities much to the confusion of everyone.

Now we have Glendening turning down a campaign appearance with the nation's top Democrat, Bill Clinton, and we have Sauerbrey, who wants to build a whole lot of new prisons, showing up in Prince George's County to denounce construction of - you guessed it.

Here's the problem: In 1994, everyone in the city voted for Glendening, while everyone in the country voted for Sauerbrey. So, with noses locked between thumb and forefinger, each is venturing into the other's turf hoping to undo the trend.

Glendening, in fact, is in Washington County this week, doing some campaigning in the cemeteries and telling everyone that Sauerbrey, if elected, will go back to her old abortion-fighting, gun-loving, education-budget slashing ways.

But of course in Washington County, everybody WANTS her to go back to her abortion-fighting, gun loving, education-budget slashing ways. Sauerbrey is no more effective in the cities when she warns that, if re-elected, Glendening will go back to his old ways of big spending for programs to help the young, infirm and disadvantaged. Because in the cities, that's what they want.

What's the solution? It's clear; we need a candidate who would promise more big spending on gun programs.

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