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  •   Marylanders Find Options Unappealing

    Governor's Campaign
    Photo of Sauerbrey and Glendening linked to governor's race index.
    Sauerbrey and Glendening are their parties' front runners for nomination. (File Photo)

    The Story So Far
    Sauerbrey proposes tax cut.
    Rehrmann leaves race.
    Glendening foes look to past.
    Governor outlines campaign.
    Curry endorses Rehrmann.
    Sauerbrey redefines campaign.
    Re-election bid begins.
    By Donald P. Baker
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Sunday, August 16, 1998; Page B01

    Donna Nemuras and Janine Johnson seemingly have little in common. Nemuras is a furniture store employee and part-time student who lives in a blue-collar town house development in Anne Arundel County and usually votes Democratic. Johnson is a health care professional who lives in a tree-lined subdivision of brick homes in Silver Spring and tends to vote Republican.

    But Nemuras and Johnson, who have never met, hold similar views about this fall's Maryland gubernatorial election, which is likely to pit Democratic Gov. Parris N. Glendening against former GOP state legislator Ellen R. Sauerbrey in a rematch of their close and bitterly contested race of four years ago.

    "If I have that choice, I'll give the woman a try, but I don't like the choices," said Nemuras, 39, a registered Democrat. Of Glendening, she said, "It's just a general feeling. I don't like him."

    Johnson, 31, hasn't ruled out voting for Sauerbrey again, but has bad memories of "the fuss Sauerbrey made" in contesting the 1994 election results. "I just thought, 'Give it up.' "

    Polls suggest that the frustrations expressed by Nemuras and Johnson will result in a close campaign in which both likely nominees must battle to overcome negative perceptions of many voters. And in interviews last week in four widely scattered and demographically distinct Maryland precincts, a diverse group of voters expressed little enthusiasm for either front-runner and a fair degree of indecision about whom to support this fall.

    Glendening and Sauerbrey still must get past the Sept. 15 primaries -- Sauerbrey is opposed by Howard County Executive Charles I. Ecker and Glendening by physician Terry McGuire and Lyndon LaRouche follower Lawrence K. Freeman. But the possibility that dissatisfied voters might have a different choice in November seemed to evaporate last week when Glendening's most serious challenger for the Democratic nomination, Harford County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann, dropped out of the race.

    Glendening did receive good marks from some voters for the extra money he has put into schools and his strong stance against casino gambling. But the interviews suggest he has also disappointed other voters who question his trustworthiness and decision to use state funds to help attract two professional football teams.

    Meanwhile, supporters and detractors alike seem to remember Sauerbrey best for the aggressive and unsuccessful contest she waged to overturn the 1994 election results. Despite efforts to moderate her image, some voters see her as too conservative. Among others, the GOP contender appears to benefit largely for one simple reason: She is not Parris N. Glendening.

    Southlawn, Prince George's County
    Once segregated, Southlawn is a community of boxy, 1950s-era wood frames now shared by blacks, whites and a large contingent of Filipino residents. Children of all races play together in the streets. Black and white neighbors chat across picket fences while watering their lawns.

    Southlawn, a heavily Democratic area in his home county, is the kind of place where Glendening must do well if he is to be reelected.

    The blue-collar community once was approached warily by black politicians because of a conservatism that was on display in the form of American flags -- in living room windows, in flower beds and on tall metal poles adorned with brass eagles.

    Campaigning Online
    Maryland gubernatorial candidate Ellen R. Sauerbrey uses her Web site as an organizing tool.
    Republican Ellen Sauerbrey uses her Web site as an organizing tool.

    Candidates Spin Web
    Two years after a presidential election first showcased the Internetís political potential, campaigns at all levels are moving online to promote their candidacies.
    State Sen. Gloria G. Lawlah, a Democrat who represents the community, said the flags often symbolized those whose views "did not represent the diversity of America." Now, Lawlah, who is black, flies a flag at her house.

    Catherine Virginia Porter, 74, regularly flew a flag of her own until it wore out. These days in Southlawn, residents like Porter matter-of-factly point out that houses once occupied by whites are now owned by blacks and Filipinos. The community is majority black.

    "We have a lot of new neighbors," said Porter, a Democrat who is white and has lived in Southlawn for 43 years. "They're all races, and we get along fine."

    She disagrees with Glendening critics, including her husband, L. Daulton Porter, who said he is "lukewarm" toward Glendening. "I think he's done a wonderful job in education and transportation," she said.

    Eddie Tandy, 53, who is black, has a son who is a junior at Oxon Hill High School, where residents of Precinct 12-01 vote. He is upset over the condition of county schools.

    Tandy, who is a building supervisor for the county's schools, blames Glendening, who was the Prince George's county executive for 12 years before becoming governor. "He gave us money at the end of his term. He should have been sending it before. I'm voting for Sauerbrey," said Tandy, a Democrat who had planned to vote for Rehrmann before she dropped out. "She can't be worse than him."

    James Robertson, 60, said the choices for governor "aren't worth a damn."

    A 20-year Air Force veteran, Robertson said he doesn't much like Glendening but may vote for him anyway. He didn't buy Sauerbrey's tax-cut promises last time and thinks she's promising things she can't deliver. "There's not a damn thing she's going to do for this state," Robertson said as he read a magazine in his yard.

    As an independent, Robertson typically waits until after the primary to focus on the candidates. Because he's black, people assume he's a Democrat. But Robertson relishes his role. "They work hard to sway us after the primary," he said.
    – Robert E. Pierre

    Rodgers Forge, Baltimore County
    Jocelyn Miceli, who recently left her job at a Washington trade association to care for her 16-month-old daughter, often joins other stay-at-home moms in the late afternoon in front of their handsome English-style town houses, built in the 1940s.

    The well-trimmed lawns and the good reputation of Baltimore County public schools have attracted many young professional families to this neighborhood, where brick town houses sell for $110,000 to $150,000.

    Even though most of the residents of Precinct 9-A, who vote at Rodgers Forge Elementary School, register as Democrats -- a holdover from the days not so long ago when few Republicans held office in Maryland -- Sauerbrey easily bested Glendening here four years ago.

    And if those interviewed at random two evenings last week are representative, she'll do likewise this year: No one expressed great enthusiasm for Glendening, but some said they will vote for him.

    Miceli, 32, a "hard-core Republican" who will vote for Sauerbrey, scoffs at Glendening's attempt to claim the moral high ground by opposing slot machines at racetracks. "He says he won't support gaming in the state," she said. "But guess what built the [Baltimore Ravens' football stadium]. The lottery."

    Brian Harral, a financial analyst, said he initially thought that Glendening, a former college professor, "might be different, coming from an academic background."

    But Harral, whose fifth child was born Thursday, has concluded that "to me, he's too much of a political operative, just another guy playing the political game." Thus, Harral, a registered Democrat, is considering following the lead of many of his neighbors who crossed the party line in 1994. But he has qualms about Sauerbrey as well and is unsure how he will vote in November.

    "Her rhetoric is a little strong sometimes," Harral said. "She strikes me as a little too conservative on a lot of issues.

    "There are many pros and cons about Parris Glendening," said Sheila Peter, 53, a Democrat who has lived in the precinct 20 years. "Maryland hasn't sunk yet. I think he's trying hard."

    Some of her neighbors are also disenchanted with Sauerbrey, especially because of her lengthy legal challenge to Glendening's narrow 1994 victory. "She could have set herself up better if she had been more positive," said Tim Fitzgerald, 31, a sales manager for a technology company. A self-described conservative Democrat, he's unimpressed with both major candidates. "Neither one really strikes my fancy," he said.
    – Charles Babington

    Stoneybrooke Village, Anne Arundel County
    Sauerbrey needs to remain strong among the Reagan Democrats in Stoneybrooke Village's Precinct 1-5, where nearly every other house seems to have a trailered boat parked in the driveway, just aching to be launched into nearby Stony Creek.

    Democratic voters outnumber Republicans nearly 2 to 1, but the precinct went solidly for Sauerbrey four years ago. And many residents who voted for Glendening in 1994 say he won't get their votes again this time when they go to the polls at High Point Elementary School.

    Their reasons vary. Some say that despite a massive outlay in school spending by Glendening in the past two years, they see little improvement. Some voters say they want slot machines -- which Glendening adamantly opposes -- not just for recreation but for the revenue they would bring the state. Several said they would have been willing to vote for Rehrmann, who supported slots.

    CAMPAIGN INTER@CT
    What Matters to You?
    What issues concern you most? What questions would you ask the candidates? Mail questions and comments to martinj@washingtonpost.com Please include your name, city and how to contact you.
    Others appear troubled by the flap surrounding a controversial pension that Glendening approved for key aides and himself when leaving Prince George's to become governor. "I'm going for Sauerbrey. Glendening is a crook," said Mike Wilson, as he sipped a beer on the front step of his town house on Holmespun Drive in Stoneybrooke Village. "He gave all those people raises."

    "Why should we vote for someone worse than we are? I wouldn't do that stuff," said Wilson, 29, who works construction and tends bar part time. He is a registered Republican who said he traditionally votes Democratic in state elections.

    University of Baltimore political scientist Dan Martin, 50, who lives farther up the block of brick and pastel aluminum-sided town houses, said, "I'm liberal for this neighborhood."

    He said his neighbors think that Glendening, whom he supports, will have a tougher time than many of his academic colleagues are predicting. They are political analysts, he said, who see a good economy and contented times benefiting incumbents like Glendening.

    "In the academic environment, it's easy to say Sauerbrey doesn't have a chance," Martin said. "But I'm talking to the same people in this neighborhood you are. They've associated [Glendening] with the Clinton-style Democrat who is willing to spend money to solve problems."

    And they don't necessarily see the money doing any good.

    "I think our public school system is going down financially," said Phyllis Doyle, 44. "I voted for Glendening last time and won't do it again."

    Doyle said her daughter played varsity baseball at Northeast High, home of the Eagles, and it never cost her a dime. This fall, her son will be a sophomore, and every sport he tries out for will cost her a $50 activity fee, a change she blames on the lack of state aid.

    "We've never had to pay this before," Doyle said. "I'm ready to give [Sauerbrey] a chance. I think she'll look out for the kids."
    – Daniel LeDuc

    Four Corners, Montgomery County

    Life is good in the Four Corners neighborhood of Silver Spring, where little the politicians in Annapolis have done in the last four years has been bad enough -- or good enough -- to change the views of many residents who vote in Precinct 13-19 at the Margaret Schweinhaut Senior Center on Forest Glen Road.

    The most common complaint heard about Glendening in this largely white, quiet neighborhood, where the single-family, owner-occupied houses sell for $140,000 to $225,000, is the governor's backing of $220 million in state funds for a football stadium for the Ravens.

    "I'm not crazy about giving millions to that guy [Art Modell, owner of the Ravens]," said Bruce Summers, 35, a father of three who works for the Agriculture Department.

    "In fact," Summers said, "it really, really irks me. When it first hit, I said, 'I'll vote for anybody but him.' But now that I have seen the choices, I guess I don't have an alternative."

    Laura Fritz, who leans Republican, isn't going to vote for Glendening "because he spent that money on the stadium instead of education," but she admits she probably wouldn't have voted for him in any event.

    A 34-year-old real estate appraiser, Fritz voted for Sauerbrey in 1994 and will again, even though she believes she will lose again. Still, Fritz wishes that Sauerbrey would soften some of her conservative stances, saying that "a lot of women I know have a problem with her pro-life stance."

    Glendening lost any chance of support from Hugh Neely, a retired government accountant, when he "went along with [former governor William Donald] Schaefer and allowed the closing of the Great Oak Center," where Neely's mentally retarded adult daughter had lived. Now she is in a home farther away, in Howard County.

    Neely also believes that Glendening has "tilted toward Baltimore considerably. It wasn't enough that we had to pay for one stadium. Now we've gotta have two."

    A Democrat most of his life, Neely switched to the GOP "as I grew in Christianity and realized I was a conservative." Now he finds that "Sauerbrey's values correspond very closely to mine," as do her views on tax cuts and smaller government.

    Linda Jessup, a Democrat who has lived in the neighborhood for 25 years, took another view. "I'm not thrilled about the stadium, but that's not disqualifying," she said.

    Jessup raised seven children in a house on Dallas Avenue that was the clubhouse for the Argyle Golf Club before it was wiped out with the coming of the Beltway -- some old-timers still call the neighborhood Country Club Manor. She said Glendening's opposition to slot machines "shows principle and strength of character. It's very hard to resist when the states are scrounging for money."

    Tim Turnham, who said he tends to vote Democratic, is leaning toward voting for Glendening a second time as a reward for "trying to put money into education. It's an investment in the future." Turnham, a fund-raiser for Children's Hospital Research Institute, also likes the idea that Glendening "attempted to slow down development" in the state.

    Hedrick Belin, 30, who works for the National Park Foundation, which raises money to augment government spending on federal parkland, said Glendening has been "good on the environment," citing his support of the Chesapeake Bay and the Clean Water Act. "That's important to me."
    – Donald P. Baker

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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