Copyright 1994 The Baltimore Sun Company
The Sun (Baltimore)
May 29, 1994, Sunday, FINAL EDITION
SECTION: NEWS, Pg. 1B
LENGTH: 1323 words
HEADLINE: Glendening emerging as front-runner
BYLINE: John W. Frece, SUN STAFF WRITER
With nearly four months to go before the September primary, Prince
George's County Executive Parris N. Glendening is now widelyregarded as the
candidate to beat or the Democratic nomination for governor.
Anything can happen over the course of a summer-long campaign, but at
moment, the 51-year-old former college professor appears to have positioned
himself to break away from the crowded Democratic field.
In interviews with state legislators, party activists, political
contributors, pollsters and even supporters of rival candidates, Mr.
Glendening is portrayed as the candidate with the money, the organization
and the endorsements.
The three-term county executive also seems to have been the luckiest
candidate so far. Put all that together and it translates into political
momentum. "He's not breaking away from the pack because there is no pack," said one
state lawmaker who is no fan of Mr. Glendening (and who, like many people
interviewed, asked not to be identified.) "He's the only candidate who is
running a smart, focused disciplined campaign. He has the field pretty much
In recent weeks, Mr. Glendening has nailed down the endorsements of
leaders of the region's two biggest jurisdictions, Baltimore and Montgomery
County; has secured the backing of the state teachers union; and has shown
up on a poll commissioned by a rival Republican candidate as the leader
among the Democrats.
As a Washington-area candidate who still is hardly a house hold name
the Baltimore region, Mr. Glendening succeeded after months of courting
Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke to garner his endorsement. With that comes a campaign
organization run by Mr. Schmoke's political adviser, Larry Gibson, that
should help Mr. Glendening overcome some of his name recognition problems in
Mr. Glendening's most significant turn of good fortune, however, came
millionaire Montgomery County businessman Stewart Bainum Jr. unexpectedly
decided not to enter the race. A Bainum candidacy could have posed a
significant threat to Mr. Glendening, in part because Mr. Bainum might have
cut into Mr. Glendening's support in the Washington suburbs.
Two other long-shot Democratic candidates, former state Sen. Edward
Kasemeyer of Howard County and former Delegate Frank M. Conaway of
Baltimore, also dropped out in recent weeks. Their departure effectively
leaves four Democratic candidates: Mr. Glendening, Lt. Gov. Melvin A.
Steinberg of Baltimore County, state Sen. Mary H. Boergers of Montgomery
County and state Sen. American Joe Miedusiewski of Baltimore. (Lawrence K.
Freeman, a Baltimore follower of Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr., also has filed as a
Mr. Glendening downplays the significance of Mr. Bainum's decision,
simply it "was helpful." He attributes his current position more to
long-range planning than to the unexpected twists of a campaign.
"We didn't enter this race late. We knew early on exactly what we wanted
to do. What you're seeing publicly now actually reflects two years of very
hard work and detailed planning," he boasted.
Pollster Brad Coker, president of Mason-Dixon Political Media Research
Inc. of Columbia, agreed that Mr. Glendening "is the only one right now that
is showing any signs of momentum." Mr. Glendening "clearly has the
best-organized campaign. His strategy -- whether ultimately it will be
victorious or not -- is working," Mr. Coker said.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., a Prince George's County
Democrat and longtime adversary of Mr. Glendening's, said he agrees -- for
"I think that is a correct assessment," Mr. Miller said when asked if
Glendening currently looks like the favorite. "But he could be overplaying
his hand in that we haven't even gotten to the filing deadline and his
campaign appears to be peaking. . . . Somehow voters like to bring down
elected officials who are riding too high."
As might be expected, Mr. Glendening's rivals do not necessarily see
"It's just a perception he created," complained Mr. Steinberg, whose
campaign has been sputtering for months.
Asked if he thought Mr. Glendening was moving ahead in the race, Mr.
Miedusiewski said, "I think it is absolutely untrue."
Ms. Boergers grudgingly acknowledged, "To say Mr. Glendening is the
front-runner today would be accurate." But she added, "Our expectation is
that, in fact, he has peaked."
Both Mr. Steinberg and Ms. Boergers had eagerly awaited Mr. Bainum's
into the race. Mr. Steinberg thought Mr. Bainum would take away some of Mr.
Glendening's Washington-area vote, while Ms. Boergers saw the entry of
another male into what was then a nine-member field as another chance for
her to shine as the only woman seeking the Democratic nomination.
Now, the dynamics have changed. Now, it is essentially a four-person
and Mr. Glendening is the primary target of the other three. They are
comparing him to Walter Mondale in 1984 or to the 1978 Maryland candidacy of
Blair Lee III, noting that they, too, had long lists of endorsements, only
to lose their respective races for president and governor.
Mr. Miedusiewski, a tavern owner from East Baltimore who has been in
General Assembly nearly 20 years, has gone after Mr. Glendening the hardest,
criticizing him for making dozens of promises to jurisdictions and special
interest groups that he says the state cannot afford to keep. By his
calculation, the promises could cost taxpayers $ 200 million or more.
Among them were promises to the teachers union to increase aid for
education and to Mayor Schmoke that the state would take over the city court
system. Mr. Glendening also told Montgomery County officials he would
restore a state program that covers the Social Security costs of teachers
and other government employees.
Ms. Boergers argues that when a candidate makes such promises, "You,
essence, have made yourself un-electable. Either it is false promises, or
you have just commited yourself to the biggest tax increase in Maryland
history. Either way, you just lost the voters."
Mr. Glendening contends his proposals are affordable if spread over
four-year term and if he is successful in efforts to expand the state's
economy and reduce the size and cost of government.
His opponents, however, clearly believe he is vulnerable on this point,
and as the campaign moves ahead, plan to raise the issue at every
One reason Mr. Glendening's chances seem favorable is that the man who
expected to be his chief rival, Mr. Steinberg, has so far been unable to
mount an effective campaign. A Mason-Dixon poll in early February showed Mr.
Steinberg leading the Democratic field, but a poll released this month by
Republican candidate Helen Delich Bentley showed Mr. Glendening had moved
ahead among the Democrats.
Even supporters of Mr. Steinberg, a former Senate president and veteran
20 years in the legislature before becoming lieutenant governor, say he
refuses to relinquish control of his campaign to political experts, and too
often misses opportunities to mix with voters or be seen at public forums.
"God helps those who help themselves, and the Steinberg campaign --
there is some form of stealth campaign I'm not aware of -- is not moving
forward," said Senate President Miller, who has nevertheless loyally
remained in the lieutenant governor's camp.
Mr. Steinberg says all that is changing, that he is letting his campaign
handlers run the show now, and that by July his campaign will be in full
swing -- just in time to peak before the September primary.