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The reluctant allies

October 09, 1998

Back in April they trashed him and endorsed his primary opponent. Now Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke and Prince George's County Executive Wayne Curry have done an about-face and backed Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening for re-election. But the duo, who backed Harford County Executive Eileen Rehrmann in the Democratic primary, aren't acting like they're overjoyed to be back in the governor's camp.

The announcement came at Schmoke's weekly press conference, an event Curry hadn't announced he would attend. Glendening didn't join them, because his staff didn't know about it in advance, and was therefore deprived of an opportunity to generate smiling campaign photos and TV soundbites.

In our view, this is less like the return of two prodigal sons than a calculated decision that whether or not they trust the governor completely, Glendening will probably provide more for both jurisdictions than GOP opponent Ellen Sauerbrey.

Glendening has already given extra school funding to Baltimore and talks on a similar deal for P.G. County are ongoing. The governor also agreed to back a state takeover of circuit court costs, giving local governments more to spend. He's also pledging more support for mass transit, which benefits urban counties, a pledge which Sauerbrey's campaign has tried (unsuccessfully so far) to convince voters means a big gasoline tax is in the offing.

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Schmoke and Curry also know that if Sauerbrey gets in, the one thing she won't renege on is her 1994 promise to reduce state taxes by 24 percent. Bluntly stated, these two local government leaders know the state can't keep all the promises Glendening has made to them if taxes are lowered that much.

And so, no, they're not going to hug him and smile at him like they would if he was a more personable sort like former Lt. Gov. Melvin "Mickey" Steinberg, a world-class builder of alliances and friendships. Instead, they will hold their noses and go along, hoping they haven't waited too late to declare their intentions.

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