State Attorney General Francis (Bill) Burch, a candidate for governor of Maryland, yesterday selected former state secretary of economic and community development Joseph G. Anastasi to run on his ticket as lieutenant governor, informed sources said.
Anastasi, a resident of Rockville who left his state cabinet post in December to become vice president of a real estate firm, was chosen to shore up Burch's standing in Montgomery County and open up avenues to the business community, sources said.
Known for his strong probusiness views, the 41-year-old Anastasi created controversy a year ago by issuing a bleak report on Maryland's economy. The hotly disputed report prompted enough interest to make economic development a major issue of this campaign.
Anatasi, a political associate of suspended Maryland Gov. Marvin Mandel, ran Mandel's statewide campaign in 1970. After serving as a gubernatorial aide and deputy cabinet secretary, he ran unsuccessfully for a U.S. congressional seat from Montgomery in 1972.
The selection of Anastasi for the second spot on Burch's ticket - a choice that is expected to be publicly announced at a series of press conference today - rounds out the third slate of Democratic contenders in the September 12 gubernatorial primary.
Acting Gov. Blair Lee III formed the first political merger May 30 by selecting state Senate President Steny H. Hoyer as his running mate. Earlier this week, Baltimore County Executive Theodore G. Venetoulis chose Anne Arundel County Councilwoman Ann Stockett for the second spot on his ticket.
The latest political alliance leaves two unattached Democratic gubernatorial candidates - former state transportation secretary Harry R. Hughes and Baltimore City Council President Walter S. Orlinsky - who by law must find running mates by the filing deadline of July 3.
Burch narrowed down his choice of running mates in recent days to Hughes and Anastasi. Hughes, who admits he is badly underfinanced for a statewide race, said yesterday he did not want the second spot and is now considering dropping his candidacy.
Orlinsky has asked Frederick Mayor Ronald Young to run on his ticket as lieutenant governor and is still awaiting a reply.
The fast-paced political mating game of recent weeks has added a new dimension to the gubernatorial race. Although the gubernatorial candidate generally sets the tone for each ticket, a running mate can add important geographical balance or augment support from a special sector of voters.
The political marriages thus far in the campaign have lumped together candidates from the same ends of the state. Lee, a Montgomery Countian, and Hoyer, of Prince George's, form the Washington axis. Venetoulis and Stockett both come from metropolitian Baltimore.
Burch, a Baltimore resident who has tried to make "regionalism" an issue in the campaign, selected Anastasi partly to increase his support in Montgomery County, sources said. Through his real estate and government connections. Anastasi also has a good rapport with business leaders who contribute to campaigns.
Anastasi's former job as head of the state agency concerned with economic growth and community development gives him good credentials to augment Burch's campaign focus on pocketbook issue. Burch portrays himself as a conservative populist who represents the working man.
Anastasi gave up his cabinet position in December, six months after his department issued a report pointing out Maryland's lagging economic growth rates and warning that the state's prosperity is jeopardized by high taxes, inadequate energy resources, local growth controls and environmental restrictions.
Several state officials, including Lee, were critical of the report, accusing Anastasi of skewing economic statistics to confirm a preconceived, probusiness bias. Nonetheless, the conclusions spurred every Democratic candidate in this election to author a position paper offering solutions to economic growth problems.