Maryland politicians are going to great lengths to uphold their good names these days.

Witness the case of Attorney General Francis (Bill) Burch, who earlier this year petitioned the court to add the (Bll) to his named legally, and to beat back the embarrassing jibes of a gadfly lawyer before the change was made.

Now Burch, a gubernatorial candidate, has run into opposition by a state elections official who refuses to enclose the name Bill in parentheses when it appears on the ballot.

Willard A. Morris, who administers Maryland's election laws, claims that parentheses around a name indicate a nickname, and nicknames are not allowed on election ballots under state law.

oher politicians who take the trouble to legally change their names, like Del. B. W. Mike Donovan (D-Prince George's), do not insist upon having their familiar moniker enclosed, Morris said.

That all sounds like a political merry-go-round for Burch, who believes the parentheses more prominently highlight the name by which, he believes, the voters know him.

So, the attorney general is headed back to court. His son, Francis B. Burch Jr., who is known as Frank, plans to file a suit requiring elections officials to list the name (Bill) in parentheses.

The last time Burch was in court to have his appellation legally changed to the nickname he has carried since childhood, Baltimore lawyer Leonard J. Kerpleman, file a petition in protest.

Kerpleman, a long-time champion of lost causes, said the name Bill didn't fit the attorney general because it "conjure up the vision of a cuddly, friendly down-to-earth, palsy, All-American-boy type of fellow, who is easy to get alone with, comradely and possessed of the common touch."

Burch, Kerpleman averred, was none of these.