Democrat Steinberg Endorses Sauerbrey
By Donald P. Baker
BALTIMORE, Sept. 17 Republican gubernatorial nominee Ellen R. Sauerbrey received the endorsement of a major Democrat today when former lieutenant governor Melvin A. Steinberg withdrew support from Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D) because of what he called "a lack of integrity and ongoing scandals."
Steinberg, who also served a stint as Maryland Senate president, said Sauerbrey would bring "character, integrity and professional competence" to the governorship, instead of the "pension scams" of the Glendening administration.
A grinning Sauerbrey accepted a peck on the cheek from Steinberg after his announcement in the driveway of his home in the Baltimore suburbs and said that Steinberg's conversion "speaks to our attempts to reach out to all Marylanders." Aides hinted that they expect to announce other defections in the future.
The "pension scams" referred to an attempt by Glendening, shortly after his election as governor in 1994, to claim a generous severance benefit for himself and others when he left the job of Prince George's county executive. Glendening backed down in the face of criticism and subsequently apologized.
After the morning news conference, other Democrats scurried to explain away Steinberg's action.
State Sen. Barbara A. Hoffman (D-Baltimore) attributed Steinberg's attack to "personal pique" from four years ago, when Glendening "beat him, and beat him bad" in the Democratic primary for governor. Then-Lt. Gov. Steinberg finished third in a field of nine.
Hoffman suggested that Steinberg's defection had more to do with "racing issues" than with his assessment of Glendening's performance as governor.
Glendening is a vigorous opponent of proposals to allow slot machines at the state's parimutuel horse racing tracks. Sauerbrey has said she would consider allowing slots, but only as a last chance to rescue the racing industry and only if approved by voters in a referendum.
Aides to Glendening said Steinberg was a lobbyist last year for the Maryland Jockey Club, which operates the Laurel and Pimlico racetracks and has been pushing for slots at the tracks.
Steinberg, a longtime friend of Jockey Club President Joseph A. De Francis, said that the law firm with which he was affiliated worked for De Francis but that his only involvement with racing was as a former lobbyist for the Maryland State Fair, which offers racing at the Timonium racetrack.
Asked about the endorsement, Glendening declined direct comment. In an interview, the governor said only, "You know [the Jockey Club] just hired [Steinberg's] son.".
Edward Steinberg, a lawyer, said today that he returned to work for the Jockey Club about a month ago but that his father's endorsement of Sauerbrey was "in no way tied to my employment."
The younger Steinberg added, "It's no secret, though, my employer is backing [Sauerbrey] and my interests would be served by seeing her elected."
Melvin Steinberg said he differs with Sauerbrey on policy questions such as abortion, gun control, tobacco regulation and collective bargaining. But he added: "I respect differences based on religious or philosophical reasons. I'm pro-choice, but it's integrity and character that count.
"It would be easy for me to remain on the sidelines during this election, but I am increasingly disturbed by Glendening and his political advisers' attacks and distorted descriptions of Ellen's positions," Steinberg said.
© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company