The Washington Post, May 2, 1993
Copyright 1993 The Washington Post
May 2, 1993, Sunday, Final Edition
SECTION: METRO; PAGE B1
LENGTH: 1372 words
HEADLINE: Glendening's Long March Against Political Tradition;
Run for Md. Governor Targets Regional Bias
BYLINE: Michael Abramowitz, Washington Post Staff Writer
As his driver whisks him to Baltimore for a speech to business leaders, Prince George's County Executive Parris N. Glendening talks animatedly
about a subject occupying more and more of his time: gubernatorial politics.
"People are ready for a change," declares Glendening, oblivious
to the passing scenery along Interstate 95. "Sometimes, when a tide starts
sweep, it makes no difference what the traditions are."
The 51-year-old executive wants to destroy one of the oldest
traditions in the Maryland book -- namely, that a politician from the Washington
suburbs can't be elected to the state's highest office.
With more than 15 months to go before the Democratic primary,
Glendening already is moving to lay the bricks for the gubernatorial campaign
he expects to kick off formally early next year. Almost every other day brings some kind of Glendening appearance outside Prince George's
County: a speech before the Advertising and Professional Club of Maryland, a meeting with Eastern Shore mayors, a get-together with a group
of Annapolis neighbors, a tour through manufacturing facilities in Western Maryland.
By his own admission, Glendening has been running for governor
for more than two years, ever since he won reelection for a third term
1990 landslide. But the pace of activity has picked up in recent months, with frequent forays to the Baltimore area, Montgomey County and
Glendening's emphasis may change depending on his audience,
but his basic message is fairly simple. He promises to focus on what he
the "Four E's" -- education, economic development, the environment and excellence in government -- while seeking to position himself as the
agent of change in the race.
Even though he has long-standing ties to powerful business
interests in suburban Washington, Glendening derides two potential Democratic
rivals, Lt. Gov. Melvin A. Steinberg and Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr., as tied to "an old guard" of back-room politicians from Annapolis
who have shortchanged education and created a fiscal mess.
"We don't have a game plan; we don't have a vision," Glendening
recently told a small gathering in the Annapolis area home of advertising
executive Gerald T. Brady. "We're drifting from crisis to crisis."
As he seeks to raise his profile in Maryland counties where
Prince George's is likely to be viewed as if it were a foreign country,
is filling up his campaign treasury. As of the most recent finance reports, filed in late November, his campaign committees reported more than $
600,000 in contributions in the bank.
That's well short of the $ 3 million Glendening has set
as his goal, but it puts him ahead of Steinberg and Curran. On Tuesday
Glendening collected $ 170,000 from a reception at Indian Spring Country Club in Silver Spring, a glittery event that attracted several hundred
Montgomery County business executives, civic leaders and politicos.
With its abundance of affluent, highly educated voters,
Montgomery represents a critical component of the "suburban strategy" Glendening
and his advisers are planning for the Democratic primary. Glendening hopes to capitalize on the growth in the number of voters in the counties
bordering Washington; his advisers are fond of pointing out that residents of the western half of the state, in or near the Washington suburbs,
now constitute a majority of Maryland's population.
Although his prospective rivals also have targeted Montgomery,
Glendening's energetic courtship of the county's civic and business leaders
has drawn notice from the county's political leaders.
"When it comes to getting his act together, he is head
and shoulders above everybody," said Blair Lee IV, a newspaper columnist
observer of Montgomery politics. "Every time I turn around, Parris is meeting with another five people."
Lee said he was particularly impressed with the lengthy
list of names on the committee that put together Tuesday's event, including
Books owner Herbert H. Haft, developers Michael T. Rose and Charles S. Shapiro, and other prominent Jewish business executives and
philanthropists. "You'd think that Mickey Steinberg would have been there first," he said, referring to the lieutenant governor, who is Jewish.
Glendening, to be sure, has some political liabilities,
not the least of which is his virtual absence of name recognition outside
suburbs. Although he usually receives a polite reception from unfamiliar audiences, there is not the kind of emotional response for the
unassuming Glendening that voters reserve for more gregarious Democrats such as Gov. William Donald Schaefer and Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski.
Robert Murphy, 45, an Annapolis salesclerk who met Glendening
at a neighbor's reception recently, put it this way: "I've always felt
most effective politicians had a certain aura of power. I don't get that feeling from him. To some extent, I think it comes from the office, and
obviously he's been doing an effective job in P.G.
"Whether that translates to the state level, I don't know," Murphy said.
Some politicians are openly skeptical of Glendening's chances of bucking traditional voter support for Baltimore politicians in statewide races.
"I don't think he has the name recognition throughout the
state," said Allen Eckel, a Curran supporter and longtime political activist
Eastern Shore who attended a recent Baltimore appearance by the gubernatorial aspirants. "I think he's too restricted in Prince George's."
The uncertain plans of other possible gubernatorial contenders,
such as state Sen. Mary H. Boergers (D-Montgomery) and Baltimore Mayor
L. Schmoke, loom as wild cards in the race. Schmoke's entry into the race would complicate Glendening's life considerably, as he could well
cut into Glendening's strong base of support among affluent black voters and white liberals in Prince George's.
But for the moment, Glendening is plunging right ahead,
at least publicly disregarding the political maneuvering below the surface.
historically has had easy races in Prince George's, in part because of his strategy of raising a lot of money early and putting together a strong
field organization. As he embarks on his first statewide race, he appears to be taking the same approach.
A University of Maryland professor who got his start in
electoral politics more than 20 years ago in Hyattsville, Glendening has
array of contacts throughout the state through his work in groups such as the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, the Maryland
Municipal League and the Maryland Association of Counties. He has spent much time and energy calling on politicians associated with those
groups to hold fund-raisers and small receptions that allow him to mingle with community leaders, seeming to prefer such gatherings to
speeches before large audiences.
One typical Glendening ally is Ron Bowers, a four-term
commissioner in Washington County who first met Glendening in the late
the Association of Counties. "I go back a long time with this guy," Bowers said, adding that Glendening has made frequent trips to Hagerstown
and other Western Maryland cities in recent years.
A big political plus for the county executive, Bowers said,
is Glendening's wife, Frances Anne, whose father, George Hughes, was a
Republican state senator from Allegany County. "People feel that this part of the state has been forgotten," Bowers said. "If you have a wife
who's from here, there's a natural linkage. There hasn't been a natural linkage before."
In the end, Glendening asserts, his low name recognition
statewide won't hurt if he raises the necessary money for a media campaign
lay the groundwork for his candidacy among the state's opinion leaders, such as the small group of mayors from Maryland's lower Eastern Shore
he has worked with recently.
"The person on the lower shore has no reason in the world
to know my name," he said. "But the small-business community, the municipal
officials increasingly know who I am and where I'm coming from. . . . They add credibility to your message. That's all I'm asking them to do."