Sauerbrey Selects Her Running Mate
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 17, 1998; Page B08
Maryland Republican gubernatorial candidate Ellen R. Sauerbrey will name former U.S. attorney Richard D. Bennett as her running mate for lieutenant governor today, sources familiar with her decision said last night.
Selecting Bennett is a move the conservative Republican, who is the leading contender for the GOP nomination, hopes will broaden her appeal to more moderate voters, especially in the Washington suburbs, the sources said. But in doing so, Sauerbrey leaves behind her running mate from four years ago, former Howard County police chief Paul H. Rappaport, who is popular with her conservative base of voters and who wanted the nod again this year.
Bennett, who ran unsuccessfully for state attorney general four years ago, has most recently served as counsel to the House committee headed by Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.), which is investigating the finances of the Clinton-Gore campaign.
Sauerbrey's choice of Bennett is a marked departure from her campaign four years ago. Then, she unexpectedly snatched the GOP nomination from the front-runner, former U.S. Rep. Helen Delich Bentley.
This time, Sauerbrey is the party favorite for the nomination, and several of her top advisers urged her to go with someone new as a running mate. An ardent conservative, Sauerbrey has attempted to moderate her image, and some of her advisers suggested she seek out a lieutenant governor candidate to help that effort.
That advice, however, was far from unanimous, sources in the campaign said. Some of her strongest supporters from four years ago wanted her to stick with Rappaport, now a lawyer in Ellicott City.
Rappaport and Bennett were on a short list of candidates that was winnowed during the last several weeks and, almost until the end, included Michael Steele, chairman of the Prince George's County Republican Committee. The three were summoned to meetings with Sauerbrey last night where she told them her decision.
"You can't run the same race again" that was run in 1994, one adviser said in urging Sauerbrey to select Bennett to broaden her appeal. And several independent GOP strategists agreed.
"I think Bennett can help her with the center," said Kevin Igoe, a College Park-based Republican consultant who is not working in this year's governor's race. "His style is a good style for Montgomery County."
"The conservatives are going to be disappointed but they're not going to vote for [Gov. Parris N.] Glendening," the Democratic incumbent, said Carol Arscott, a pollster and the former Howard County Republican chairman.
Democrats were harsher in their assessment. "She selected [Bennett] as an attempt to soften her image, downplay her right-wing agenda. They are an odd couple," said Maryland Democratic Party Chairman Peter Krauser.
Bennett, who served as Maryland's U.S. attorney from 1991 to 1993, could not be reached for comment last night.
He received attention this spring when he said he would leave Burton's committee this summer and expressed unhappiness that the House investigation had grown too partisan. Even many Republicans have been critical of Burton.
"Sometimes people allow their own strong feelings about President Clinton to affect their judgment," Bennett told the Baltimore Sun last month. "I've never viewed my role as trying to nail the president. I'm trying to determine the role of foreign money in the American political system."
But if Bennett has any reservations about Burton's committee work, he was willing to set them aside on June 1 to have the congressman as a headliner at a $250-a-person fund-raiser for Sauerbrey at his Severna Park home.
Bennett, 50, is a lawyer with the Baltimore law firm of Miles and Stockbridge. In his bid to unseat state Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. four years ago, he received 46 percent of the vote, which GOP analysts called a respectable showing in Maryland, where Democrats have dominated state-level politics.
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