Return to Key Players
Maryland Enters Glendening Era
By Charles Babington
ANNAPOLIS, JAN. 18 -- Parris N. Glendening, employing the inspirational rhetoric of John F. Kennedy and the modern message of smaller government, was inaugurated today as Maryland's 59th governor and the first elected from the Washington area in more than a century.
Under drizzly gray skies, the 52-year-old Democrat from Prince George's County said in his inaugural address that Maryland can improve its schools, economy and public safety if every resident will "do his or her part."
"These changes will come when we stop saying we have a problem and then asking, 'What can government do about it?' " Glendening told more than 1,000 people who huddled in a chilly mist outside the historic Maryland State House.
The Kennedyesque words were fitting for a day in which his lieutenant governor -- Kathleen Kennedy Townsend -- joined him on the tent-covered stage. The eldest child of Robert F. Kennedy, Townsend was accompanied by her mother, Ethel Kennedy, several siblings, including Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II (D-Mass.), and other Kennedy relatives.
Glendening, the college professor who grew up poor in Florida and patiently climbed the rungs of Prince George's County government, personified the political changes sweeping Maryland when he took the oath of office at noon in a jammed state Senate Chamber. His inauguration ended a long run of Baltimore-dominated leadership in Maryland, and his address underscored the new trend toward austere government.
Often in his 25-minute address, Glendening portrayed himself as a no-nonsense leader who would encourage volunteers to fill some of the roles government can no longer afford. "We can create a new education system based on having the highest expectations of our children and young adults -- if teachers, parents, business people, entire communities join with us to make it happen," Glendening said.
In real and metaphorical terms, Glendening also dwelt on family matters throughout the day, pointing to an empty chair placed on the dais in memory of his deceased parents and those of his wife, Frances Anne. He expanded the theme to urge Marylanders to unite and strive to improve society. "Today," he said, "we reach beyond our personal family to the family of Maryland -- people of all ages, all colors, all backgrounds."
At the same time, he seemed to temper expectations: "Change will not be measured by the laws we pass. It will be measured by the lives we touch. ... Your government cannot make these changes alone. These changes will come from all of us, throughout the state, working together."
The gloomy weather befitted the final day in office for William Donald Schaefer (D), who spent the last eight years as governor and the 15 years before that as mayor of Baltimore. Schaefer, who rarely praised the politicians who preceded or succeeded him in office, attended today's swearing-in but then left the Governor's Mansion in a chauffeured car before Glendening began his inaugural address.
His departure was a break in recent tradition. The outgoing governor, Harry R. Hughes, had attended Schaefer's inaugural speech eight years ago. Today, Hughes opened the inaugural activities with a welcoming speech and former governor Marvin Mandel sat quietly on the stage. Mandel served 19 months in federal prison after a mail fraud and racketeering conviction that subsequently was overturned..
Schaefer spokesman Joe Harrison said the departing governor meant no slight to Glendening. "He feels Parris ought to be on center stage, and on stage alone," Harrison said.
To be sure, Glendening reveled in the day. He called the drizzle "an Irish mist," adding, "For me and my family, it's a sunny day."
While his running mate was born into a wealthy and politically famous family, Glendening has humble roots. The Bronx-born son of a struggling gas station owner, he grew up in the Miami area, starting in a house without running water. The first in his family to attend college, he received a doctoral degree from Florida State University and began teaching political science at the University of Maryland at College Park.
He entered local politics, serving as a Hyattsville City Council member, a Prince George's County Council member and then, for 12 years, as the county executive. A skillful but uncharismatic politician, Glendening seemed to be alluding to himself when he said blue-collar workers in Maryland have taught him "that ordinary people can accomplish extraordinary things."
Today, Glendening surrounded himself with family and friends, tapping University of Maryland's president, William E. Kirwan, to introduce him. Kirwan praised several attributes of the governor, including his "practicality."
Glendening offered no details of his plans for the state, saying they would come in the budget he presents to the General Assembly Friday and the State of the State Address he will make Jan. 26.
Glendening labeled his 25-minute inaugural address "my vision for Maryland in the 21st century." In keeping with his campaign, he said he would emphasize education, public safety and economic development.
Glendening's address was heavy on sentimentality and symbolism. A few minutes into his speech he called his wife to the lectern and dedicated to her a song, "The Wind Beneath My Wings." National Guard Sgt. Marcella Diehl then sang the song, whose refrain is, "Did you ever know that you're my hero?" while Glendening and his wife hugged each other several times.
Some in the audience grimaced, complaining privately that the ceremony was veering into schmaltz. But most seemed willing to let Glendening have his day and to wait for the details of how he will improve schools, public safety and the economy while keeping his no-new-taxes pledge.
"It was a speech which reached out to all Marylanders," said state Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Prince George's), who has feuded with Glendening in the past. "Despite the fact that it was a dreary, misty day, there was an awful lot of enthusiasm in the crowd and on the platform."
A blunter assessment came from Del. Robert H. Kittleman (Howard-Montgomery), the House Republican leader. "There was nothing to disagree with there," he said. "There was no substance to the speech. ... Everyone is for motherhood and apple pie."
There was no mention of the narrowness of Glendening's Nov. 8 victory, when he defeated Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey by 5,993 votes among 1.4 million cast. Sauerbrey dropped her legal challenge to the election Sunday, but the strong GOP showing in Maryland and the nation clearly has sobered the new governor and the Democratic-controlled General Assembly.
Glendening, who often sounds professorial, steered clear of anything smacking of elitism today, expressing his empathy with ordinary Marylanders who live "from paycheck to paycheck." He and his staff insist on calling the governor's official residence "Government House," the more prosaic name it had before Schaefer changed it to "Governor's Mansion." In his speech, Glendening hailed "the lathe operator in Cumberland, the watermen of the Chesapeake, the steelworkers, shopkeepers and entrepreneurs of Baltimore."
His speech appeared aimed at the middle class and the middlebrow. The only poet he quoted was Edwin Markham, and the featured song was a pop hit for Bette Midler.
The ceremony also featured soloists singing the National Anthem and a closing spiritual. When it ended, Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D) said, "Looks like we're going to do a lot of singing over the next four years."
Glendening's inauguration is a political milestone for the growing Washington suburbs, which for decades have taken a back seat to Baltimore. Tonight's inaugural ball was held at the Prince George's equestrian center. And this afternoon, Glendening made a point of standing in the rain to applaud when the county's Northwestern High School Band marched by in the parade that followed his speech.
Blair Lee III, of Montgomery County, served 17 months as acting governor during Mandel's legal problems in the late 1970s. But Glendening is the first elected governor from the Washington area in nearly 125 years.
If the day brought to fruition Glendening's long-nurtured ambitions, it seemed equally anti-climactic for Schaefer, Maryland's dominant politician for a quarter-century. In a long, eerie silence that preceded the swearing-in, Schaefer, Glendening and many guests walked from the Governor's Mansion to the State House between a cordon of police and military personnel. Reporters and photographers scrambled for good views, but no one broke the awkward quiet until a few Schaefer and Glendening staff members raised a brief cheer from a porch on State Circle.
A state trooper gently lifted a dripping magnolia branch so it wouldn't hit Schaefer's bare head as he entered the State House for the last time as governor.
Once inside, Glendening joined Schaefer, Cardinal William H. Keeler, of Baltimore, and other dignitaries for omelets in the governor's reception room. Paul E. Schurick, the Schaefer chief of staff who lost his job as of noon, ran out to fetch copies of his resume in case anyone was interested.
Schaefer, speaking to reporters about the transition, said: "No problem. He picks up the baton. I pass it to him. That's it."
He said Glendening did not ask for advice "and I didn't offer any. I did say, 'If you ever need any advice, just call.' ... But governors do their own thing. They don't use other governors."
Schaefer's somber mood contrasted particularly with the spirits of Townsend, who hoisted her daughters in her arms throughout the day and laughed when she accidentally signed a state registry on the spot reserved for the new governor.
One of the day's lightest moment came during the inaugural speech, just after Glendening had repeatedly hugged his wife on stage. When he called his son, Raymond, to be introduced, the 15-year-old stuck out his hand to his father. "You're not going to do the same thing again, are you?" Raymond asked.
The new governor settled for a clap on the shoulder and continued his speech.
Staff writers Michael Abramowitz, David Montgomery, Terry M. Neal and Fern Shen contributed to this report.