The Washington Post, June 9, 1993

                                               Copyright 1993 The Washington Post
                                                      The Washington Post

                                              June 9, 1993, Wednesday, Final Edition


   LENGTH: 1252 words

   HEADLINE: Running to Be No. 1 in Md.;
   The Lt. Gov. Wants to Move Up in the World

   SERIES: Occasional

   BYLINE: Richard Tapscott, Washington Post Staff Writer

   The 200 well-dressed people at the annual dinner of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce were intent on installing new officers
   and presenting awards, but Melvin A. Steinberg was doing his level best to win them over.

   The Maryland lieutenant governor who would like to be governor squeezed his usual 30-minute stump speech down to five minutes, and the
   result was a rapid-fire blur of "crisis" issues, "really important" statistics and "vital" programs, none of them burdened by specifics.

   William Toby Beach, the chamber's new president, listened to Steinberg's remarks and shared a table with him and eight others at the Monday
   night dinner in Bethesda, yet he said he took away no new insights into the state's No. 2 elected official.

   "It's tough to make an impression in such a short period of time," Beach said yesterday morning. "It's nothing for or against [Steinberg]. My mind
   was on so many other things." Though his 1994 candidacy went unstated during his formal introduction and brief address, Steinberg was in
   Montgomery County doing missionary work for that campaign. It was one of the frequent trips he has made this year to the state's most
   populous county, an area he badly needs to cultivate before the Democratic Party primary.

   Steinberg's 27 years as a State House insider has given him, at times, a personal and political style that is difficult to translate to outsiders, as
   when he told chamber members that Montgomery should be "compensated" for its "high retention rate" in school attendance.

   But James Goeden, a member of the chamber's staff, said Steinberg gained some level of acceptance Monday night in a wealthy county that
   feels it is alternately plundered and neglected by state government.

   "The people at my table felt that if Steinberg had been governor, with the troubles that Montgomery County faced in the last year, something
   would have been worked out so everybody would have got something," Goeden said, referring to state cuts in education aid to the county.

   Even 15 months before the gubernatorial primary, such impressions are important to Steinberg, whose current reputation is built largely on an
   enduring rift with Gov. William Donald Schaefer.

   What most voters know about Steinberg, according to polls and focus groups, is that he and Schaefer disagreed so violently over the governor's
   tax proposals in 1991 that Schaefer stripped his lieutenant governor of duties and staff, leaving him an office, a $ 100,000-a-year salary and
   nothing much to do except cut ribbons and make speeches that serve his gubernatorial aspirations.

   Schaefer leaves office next year after a maximum two terms, and Steinberg is among the front-runners to replace him. Steinberg's
   well-publicized break is helping him, said his pollster, Alan Secrest.

   "The governor is nothing short of a pariah in the eyes of voters, general election or primary," Secrest said.

   Others are not so certain that Steinberg can play both the insider and outsider to a wary electorate.

   "The biggest thing Steinberg has to overcome is his association with Schaefer," said Brad Coker, who conducts independent polls for news
   organizations. "He's got to convince voters he's been an outsider the last four years but kept the title and took the paycheck. That's a hard

   Montgomery County is important to Steinberg as a Democratic battleground.

   A native of Baltimore who represented Baltimore County in the state legislature from 1967 to 1987, he faces a determined effort by Prince
   George's County Executive Parris N. Glendening and Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr., both of whom are courting the suburbs.

   Complicating the picture even more are the early moves by first-term state Sen. Mary H. Boergers (Montgomery), who said she may run for

   A statewide poll done in March by Mason-Dixon Opinion Research put Steinberg in a statistical tie with Curran, with Glendening close behind.
   When Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke was added to the survey as a possible candidate, Schmoke came out the easy winner.

   If Schmoke avoids the Democratic primary for governor, as most analysts predict, it becomes wide open. "We still have an unformed electorate,"
   said Keith Haller, president of Potomac Survey Research.

   To which Steinberg replies, "There isn't a guy in the race who wouldn't trade places with me. My negatives are low, and I'm second in
   Montgomery County [in a recent poll]."

   Steinberg, 59, is banking on his reputation as a dealmaker and conciliator to help him prevail in a crowded Democratic primary. He won broad
   acclaim during Schaefer's first term for shepherding the governor's legislative package to approval.

   Steinberg points to a restructuring of the University of Maryland system and helping Schaefer secure funding for the new baseball stadium in
   Baltimore as among his proudest achievements. It is Steinberg's pragmatism and willingness to seek compromises that has brought many
   supporters to him.

   Gilbert B. Lessenco, a longtime Democratic activist in Montgomery, is helping Steinberg build a campaign organization in the county. "I support
   Mickey because he is someone who can pull the state together," Lessenco said.

   Others, particularly Glendening, say Steinberg's penchant for compromise and deal-crafting is part of business-as-usual in Annapolis, a game
   too long played by insiders. His back-slapping bonhomie and borscht-belt humor strike some critics as anachronistic.

   To Baltimore Sun columnist Michael Olesker, the rotund Steinberg appears to be "equal parts Hubert Humphrey and a guy working the carryout
   counter at a deli."

   That's about the right mix, says Baltimore lawyer-lobbyist Alan Rifkin, a political prote'ge' of Steinberg's.

   "His humor belies the fact that he's extremely intelligent," Rifkin said. "He takes the humor and weaves it into the conversation, which is laced
   with the policy issues, and disarms the tensions when two people are at odds. That's a real talent."

   In an interview, Steinberg talked about his way of forging consensus, a manner which he said allows little room for ego and pride of authorship.
   "I may be wrong 90 percent of the time. So what? So What?" he repeated. If someone has a good idea, he added, "Put it on the table and let's

   Like other candidates facing the slow-growth 1990s, Steinberg advocates restructuring state government -- "right-sizing," as the buzzword
   would have it. But Steinberg said decisions on the future of Maryland state government will be far from easy. "People in government are always
   trying to solve the symptoms, to seek simple, expedient solutions," he said. "The answer is not to cut services or raise taxes. Government has
   just grown too much, and we've been diluting high-priority items."

   Steinberg, a successful lawyer and businessman, counts on his base in the Baltimore area and friendships in the General Assembly to be building
   blocks for his campaign.

   But one of Steinberg's closest legislative allies, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Prince George's), delivered something less than a
   ringing endorsement when asked his personal choice for a Democratic nominee. "It's very early," a cautious Miller said. "I admire Mickey
   Steinberg, and I'm also an admirer of Kurt Schmoke, and I'm a close friend of Joe Curran."

   Yet, Miller said, Steinberg is well trained to be governor and has a good, blue-collar work ethic. "He has a unique ability to get along with
   people, largely because of his sense of humor," Miller said.