Formation of the new Maryland Democratic gubernatorial ticket of Acting Gov. Blair Lee III and State President Steny H. Hoyer demonstrates that they are "still playing (the) game" of political tradeoffs that brought Maryland its corrupt reputation, Baltimore County Executive Theordore G. Venetoulis charged yesterday.
Venetoulis is also seeking the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, and his charges, which linked Lee and Hoyer with former Gov. Marvin Mandel and political tradeoffs, which Venetoulis said dominated the state for the past dozen years, constitute the sharpest attack against Mandel and his associates so far in the 1978 campaign.
It brought a prompt reply from Hoyer, named Wednesday as Lee's lieutenant governor candidate, that Venetoulis' remarks were "typical double-think." He also said it is "rather ironic in light of the fact that he (Venetoulis) asked me to run on his ticket on Sunday."
Venetoulis said at a press conference here: "Where were the acting governor and the Senate president when we needed them, when Maryland was being sold down the river?
"They were paddling in place."
"And they were paddling in place because the system that dominated Maryland's politics only has room for those who don't make waves," Venetoulis said. "Those who don't make waves become lieutenant governors. Those who don't make waves are made presidents of the Senate. And those who don't make waves for four more years will be promised patronage, power in their own counties, top positions for their associates and even the chance to be governor."
Mandel had handpicked Lee to be his lieutenant governor and Hoyer to be Senate president. Since Mandel's conviction last August on federal mail fraud charges involving special favors for race tract legislation, both have tried to minimize their relationships with the former governor.
Replying to Venetoulis' charges, Hoyer said Venetoulis "invited me to go on his ticket because he thought I was a good reform candidate." "He thought I could be half of the new politics. The rhetoric of the county executive is that of someone who wanted what he couldn't have and resents someone who did get it."
Hoyer also said it "was absurd" to say he was "paddling in place" as part of the Mandel establishment.
He said he was an advocate and sometimes a sponsor of legislation to try to clean up the state's politics.
Lee could not be reached for comment. His spokesman, Thom Burden, said, "'Tis the season. I'll let you characterize the rhetoric."
Earlier yesterday, at his regular news conference, Lee said Venetoulis is probably his strongest opposition for governor.
Harry Hughes, the former state transportation secretary, was the first person to bring Mandel's name into the campaign. He mildly referred to the state's system of "business as usual" when he announced his campaign for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination last December.
Venetoulis said, "The battle lines are sharply drawn. They (Lee-Hoyer) offer two political machines for the price of one. We offer no machine at all . . . It's the old machine politics against grass roots politics by the people.
"They offer rhetoric about reform and ethics and openness which they have failed to actualize during their collective 32 years in government," Venetoulis said. "Already the acting governor is trying to buy Baltimore by promising appointments to people whom the voters haven't even elected to office yet. Is that fresh leadership?"