Candidates Scramble for Goldstein's Post
By Daniel LeDuc
Last night's death of longtime Maryland Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein only three days before Monday's filing deadline for candidates promises to ignite a mad scramble for a job that only yesterday had seemed unattainable even for the state's most prominent politicians.
Goldstein had held the office since 1958, and even at the age of 85 was considered virtually unbeatable this year. Now, leaders in both the Democratic and Republican parties will be scrambling over the Fourth of July weekend to find candidates for the key statewide position in a race that could now have ramifications up and down the ballot and especially in the governor's race.
"I guarantee you there will be a lot of people on the phones over the weekend trying to see what to do," said Del. D. Bruce Poole (D-Washington), the former House majority leader. "You could easily see people who were poised for one office who may consider this one."
Speculation already was swirling last night that such powerful legislators as Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Prince George's) or House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. (D-Allegany) may consider the job. State Treasurer Richard N. Dixon, a former delegate, also was mentioned as a possibility.
There was talk, as well, that Harford County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann, who is challenging Gov. Parris N. Glendening for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, may think about the comptroller's slot. Democratic sources said last night that Rehrmann has long been interested in the job but shied away from it because of Goldstein's popularity.
Those sources said she might consider dropping her gubernatorial bid but suggested that her campaign manager, Larry Gibson, probably would encourage her to stay in the governor's race, though she trails Glendening. Gibson is an ally of Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke (D), who has endorsed Rehrmann, antagonizing Glendening. Neither Rehrmann nor her spokesman could be reached last night.
"With all deference to Louis, the timing creates an extraordinary situation in Maryland politics because it happened so close to the filing deadline," said a Democratic source.
Both Glendening and state Democratic Party Chairman Peter Krauser declined to comment on the political fallout of Goldstein's death, saying it was inappropriate to discuss it now. Glendening will name an interim replacement, but anyone wanting the job on a permanent basis will have to file by 9 p.m. Monday to appear on the Sept. 15 primary ballot.
Republicans have on the ballot the candidate, Tim Mayberry, who ran against Goldstein in 1994. Privately, some supporters of Ellen R. Sauerbrey, the leading GOP gubernatorial candidate, had said her campaign was distancing itself from him.
Recently, GOP sources said, intermediaries for Sauerbrey tried to persuade Howard County Executive Charles I. Ecker to run for comptroller. Ecker, Sauerbrey's only opponent for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, trails her badly in the polls. Sauerbrey hopes to have a strong GOP ticket in the general election, and sources said Ecker would have helped greatly.
Last night, Ecker said he had been approached but declined. "I've ruled that out," Ecker said.
House Minority Leader Robert H. Kittleman (R-Howard) said he did not anticipate additional GOP candidates for comptroller and said he expected the party to back Mayberry, who could not be reached last night.
"The Republicans will have a much better chance against whoever the Democrats put up if it's not Louie Goldstein," he said. "The Democrats will be in a panic."
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