Acting Maryland Gov. Blair Lee III says there is no comparison between running for governor, as he is now and running for lieutenant governor, as he did in 1974. "The Voters are pretty smart. They know the governor is the governor, the president is the president ... and that's how they treat you."

In this campaign Lee is the major attraction, the gubernatorial candidate, not the second-billed performer he was in 1974. Then he toured the state with now suspended governor Marvin Mandel "putting on a dog-and-pony act," as he described it, always in Mandel's shadow.

Yet this year, during Lee's own gubernatorial race, there is a general feeling that, for the first time in the state's history, the lieutenant governor candidates count. With four Democrats, four Republicans and no over whelming favorite for governor among them, all the running mates were chosen to appeal to a certain constituency to underline a certain issue, to tip the balance in favor of their ticket.

This mating strategy may be old hat in national politics or in other states but it is new to Maryland. The position of lieutenant governor was not created until 1970. In 1974, the year when lieutenant governor candidates made their debut, the race was so dominated by Mandel, as the incumbent governor, that the campaign was little more than an extension of his administration.

Lee recognized the new importance of the lieutenant governor candidates this year and worked hard to bring State Senate President Steny H. Hoyer onto his ticket as lieutenant governor. "Steny was my first c hoice," Lee said. "Because he had the knowledge, skill, integrity and the one advantage over all the others-a strong political base of his own."

This electoral importance has promoted Hoyer and the other running mates from sides how spectacles to center-stage performers, following campaign schedules as demanding as the gubernatorial candidates.

And these eight men and woman are raising issues normally forgotten in a gubernatorial race-usually ones of concern to their own special constituencies. These candidates are: a physician who is the first black to appear on any major Maryland ticket, a woman with a long activist history at the League of Women Voters, a small town mayor who won national honors, an Italian-American attorney, a businessman, a Prince George's County Council member and Hoyer, who brought a new level of professionalism to the Senate during his presidency.

When asked how Republican gubernatorial candidate J. Glenn Beall Jr. hoped to stand out from his Democratic opponnents, his campaign chairman answered immediately: "The obvious difference is at the top of the ticket. We have a black lietuenant governor. That says how open we are to all voters."

Louise Gore, one of Beall's Republican opponents, has similar hopes for sending a message through her running mate. "My running mate has been working for Baltimore City for 20 years and I want the voters to know that I'm concerned with the city. Sam Culotta tells them I am."

Aris Allen, the Annapolis physician, and Hoyer, the Annapolis power-broker, are the running mates of the current leaders in their party's primaries. Hoyer is taking a considerable gamble with his candidacy, giving up an assured Senate seat and the presidency.

Many point to Hoyer's decision as proof that the lieutenant governor means something this time around. "I did it to try at 39 years old to do one thing full time as best as I can," Hoyer said. "Yes, it gives me statewide exposure I never had in the legislature."

At two recent picnics for Prince George's County Democratic Party workers, it was clear that Hoyer was putting his organization to work for the ticket as expected. He was greeted by all as "Steny," the county's favorite son, and asked to pose for snap shots that would land in family albums.

In building the Democratic Party in Prince George's and an efficiently run state senate, Hoyer has managed to unite people with diverse points of view and convert many of them into supporters.

It is Hoyer's record of leadership that Lee is promoting in their joint candidacy, emphasizing that together they offer the voters 32 years of legislative experience.

The greatest proof of Hoyer's leadership ability is the fact that he once had the support, either publicly or privately, of all other Democratic lieutenant governor candidates, in his original bid for the gubernatorial nomination. Once Hoyer accepted the second spot on Lee's ticket, some of his top supporters were tapped by the other gubernatorial candidates as ticket members.

Among those supporters was Joseph G. Anastasi, who dropped out last week when Attorney General Francis Bill Burch, his gubernatorial candidate, withdrew from the race. Anastasi is the former state secretary of economic and community development who authored an pivotal report on Maryland's declining economic health, a major issue in this race.

Ann C. Stockett, the running mate of Baltimore County Executive Theodore G. Venetoulis, also was a one-time private supporter of Hoyer. After he joined Lee's ticket, she was chosen to complement Venetoulis' anti-establishment platform for a "New Maryland." Agressively, Stockett has carved a special niche for herself, targeting the women of Maryland as her constituency and reviving old ties from her eight years with the League of Women Voters.

She tells political gatherings that she has "done it all before, the drudge work of political activism: collating, editing, stamping, driving all over the state to pick up late copy for newsletters, testifying, researching, drafting bills, lobbying, the whole works."

Now an Anne Arundel County Council member, Stockett counts her four years as League lobbyist plus almost three years on the council as legislative experience that Venetoulis lacks. That is the balance on their ticket.

"We divided issues," she explained. "I'm continuing to stress the (problems ofthe) mentally ill and the handicapped and issues of the family, like education. If I had the power today, I'd remove Neil Solomon (head of the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.) I don't believe in maintaining those large and cruddy institutions for our handicapped. I'd like to see them gradually replaced by community centers."

Her other campaign theme-protecting the health of small local governments-is personified by Ronald N. Young, the mayor of Frederick who won national awards for his town-center revitalization programs. Now Young is the running mate of Walter S. Orlinsky, Baltimore City Council prisident.

Young is passionate about the virtues and problems of Frederick, as well as those of the 154 other Maryland municipalities. "We've been totally ignored by the state. Maryland officials would rather just talk to counties and pretend our problems don't exist."

"The political reality is that all of the issues discussed in this campaign-property tax cuts, the state economy, education-depend on the health of the small cities," he continued.

In Frederick, that means eliminating what Young calls double taxation, forcing the towns to support county police and other services, without giving back to the towns the state aid that counties receive. It is also recognizing the need for economic incentives in his western Maryland area.

Samuel A. Bogley, the running mate of Harry R. Hughes, former state secretary of transportation, is echoing the anticorruption theme of his candidate. The Prince George's County Council member is stumping the state calling for an end to strong organization politics as exist in his county, under the sponsorship of Hoyer and Peter F. O' Malley, a Prince George's attorney.

The Republicans came late to the campaign but Allen, the 67-year-old Annapoliphysician and chairman of the party's state central committee, is encouraged that the Republicans were able to field four candidates. "As a party we can be responsive to the people who are tired of the last decade of Democratic rule."

As a black, Allen hopes to appeal to minorities and all people "concerned with high taxes, the rate of unemployment, especially among teenagers, education and housing opportunities and even the old potholes in their roads that go unrepeared."

His bipgraphy lists accomplishmets, humanitarian and church awards too numerous to be repeated. Born to a poor Texas family, Allen left grammer school and then worked his way through Dunbar High School in Washington and through Howard University and Howard's Medical School.

From 1966 to 1973 he was a member of the House of Delegates and served as minority whip for seven of those years.

Culotta, Allen's counterpart on Gore's ticket, is promoting himself as the first Italian American to be selected for the second spot on a statewide ticket. "There's been a tremendous resurgence among ethnics in this state," he says. "Especially in Baltimore, the Poles, the Ukranians, the Italian seem to favor the Republican Party.

Culotta also was a member of the House ofDelegates, during the 1950s, and in 1976 he was the unsuccessful opponent of U.S. Rep. Barbara A. Mikulski. His long absence from elected positions does not daunt him. "In 1954 I went in every nook and cranny of the state running the campaign for Gov. Theodore R. McKeldin. I've never lost touch ... My goodness, there's no one who will deny my deep knowledge of the city."

The other two Republican lieutenant governor candidates are Francis Porter, the former Maryland editor of the defunct Washington Daily News, and Raymond J. Krul, a businessman. Both are running campaigns aimed at discrediting Beall, the favorite inthe Republican gubernatorial primary.