He reeked of the beer they had been drinking all day at the Republicans' annual ox roast in Allegany County. Timidly, he walked up to Louise Gore, a Republican candidate for governor with a pen in his hand and one of her campaign leaflets.
"Miss Gore, my name is Andy . . . I voted for you the last election and I'm gonna vote for you again . . . Will you sign your picture for me? You signed your picture for me the last time, remember?"
"Yes, yes, yes, of course," Gore replied, all the while nodding her head, blinking her eyes and puffing nervously on a lipstick-stained cigarette.
"To Andy: We have a date in '78," she read aloud as she wrote. Then she smiled a broad smile that seemed to make her instantly look years younger.
To some people like Andy a refrigeration repairman from Cumberland, Louise Gore is more than the woman who lost to Marvin Mandel in 1974, and is now a candidate again. Louise Gore is something of a personage.
They know her name. They know of her famous parties at Marwood, the Gore family parties at Marwood, the Gore family mansion in Montgomery County, on an estate overlooking the Potomac River. They associate her with the presidents she's known. Dwight Eisenhower, whom she once got to speak before a Republican women's group; John Kennedy, who used to swim in the outdoor pool at Marwood; and Richard Nixon, who appointed her ambassador to the United Nations Educational, Scientic and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
More importantly, they have seen her show up at their bull roasts, coffees, teas and fundraisers for the past 30 years.
But to others in the Republican Party, even those who praise her record as a faithful party worker, as a former state delegate and state senator, and as the coordinator of numerous philanthropic causes, Louise Gore is a politician on the wane, who just won't quit.
"The music has stopped," said one Maryland legislator, "and Louise has kept on dancing."
Gore's traditional base support has been the Republican women's groups across the state. In recent years, observers say, as more women took on full-time jobs, more moved from their supporting roles in such groups and been seeking office themselves, the group's strength dwindled.
Yet, Gore continues to attract a small core of gentle, white-haired ladies, who in the past have helped put up her posters and run her political coffees at Marwood. The women show up with at political functions, wearing "Gore For Governor" hats and buttons left over from the last Gore campaign.
And Gore has failed to get the support of the party's standard bearers in Congress and the state legislature this time around. Some of them, like Rep. Marjorie Holt, for example, discourange her from running against J. Glenn Seall, the former congressman and U.S. senator, whom many Republicans feel is the only candidate who can make a strong showing against the Democrats former Prince George's County Sheriff and D.C. postmaster Carlton G. Beall and Baltimore surgeon and party worker Ross Z. Pierpont are also running in the primary, but are not as widely known as J. Glenn Beall and Gore.
The prospect of having to choose between two "party stalwarts," as J. Glenn Beall and Gore are considered, is an agonising one for many Republicans who were hoping to avoid a divisive primary in a year when they believe they have a reasonable chance at taking the governorship from the Democratis.
"I think a lot of people wish they didn't have to make a choice. They like both people. Both have been active in the party so long and contributed so much physically, morally to the party. If both could win (we'd) be happy," said Fleur Bressler, president of the Maryland State Federation of Republican women.
"I have a feeling a lot people are going to be making up their minds on Tuesday Sept. 12," she added.
Gore is one of the first to admit that hers is an uphill battle. But she says in her typicall quiet, genteel manner, "There is absolutely nothing wrong with being defeated . . . At least the public will have had a choice."
And yet, Louise Gore says she doesn't expect defeat. She did, she is quick to point out, pull what many in theparty considered "an incredible coup" in the 1974 primary when she defeated Rep. Lawrence J. Hogan (R-Md.), who had gained national prominence when, as a member of the House Judiciary Committee, he became one of the first Republicans to call for Nixon's impeachment.
"I would certainly not take Louise for a frivolous candidate," said State Sen. John Bishop (R-Baltimore County), who is supporting Beall.
"She's a nuts and bolts politican, who's always been close to the party faithful . . . Louise will show up at party functions where no one else of her stature would."
Those who know here, even those who are nort supporting her this time, say the power of her personality cannot be underestimated. "Louise is such a good listener," said State Sen. Howard Denis (R-Montgomery County). She is sophisticated, yet ever ingratiating. Her speech and manners are aristocratic, yet she is quick to poke fun at herself.
Asked recently about the large size of her campaign buttons, which are about five inches in diameter with large red and blue lettering, the 53-year-old candidated replied, "Oh, I'm after the senior citizen vote. We want to make sure they can read them."
"Nice" is the word her 197 opponent, now suspended Gov. Marvin Mandal, chose to describe her.
For example, in 1974, when Hogan went on television calling for Nixon's impeachment, Gore and her women volunteers immediately set up a phone bank and called Republicans throughout Maryland to test their reaction. Seeing that the overwhelming reaction went against Hogan, Gore began getting the committments that led to her upset victory over the former Congressman.
And yet, she has been described by her colleagues as an astute strategist, a politican who knows how to pull strings in a gentle, effective way.
"You look at her and she lets you talk and you say, 'Oh she's so nice,' and all the time the wheels are turning and Louise is getting her way," Denis said.
But there are those in the party who have never forgiven Gore for losing the 1974 election by the embarrassing margin of 27 percent as a time when her opponent's name was being associated with a federal investigation into political corruption in Maryland. And since the last campaign, Gore has made a concerted effort to change her image.
She has lost 50 pounds, the result of both a liquid protein diet and an operation she underwent recently for a shoulder injury she received in a near-fatal car accident in 1967. Gone too is the bouffant hairdo she sported then, replaced now with a more conservative, casual pulled-back look.
Criticized frequently in the last campaign for lacking knowledge about the state government, Gore has worked to overcome that image by issuing a series of position papers with specific proposals since the beginning of the campaign.
She has proposes, for example, holding a tax convention in 1981 so that elected citizens can review all the state's taxes with a view toward determining which ones can be eliminated, which ones cost more to administer than they return in revenue.
She has also proposed limiting the growth of state spending to the actual growth of its economy.
But she got her facts somewhat jumbled when she issued a press released during a trip to Allegany County last month, criticizing the Appalacian Regional Commission for failing to use several million dollars in federal aid available for projects in the western Maryland region.
William Pate, director of the commission, said the only funds which weren't used were those earmarked for a highway system which is currently being held up by citizen opposition. He said the monies still belong to Maryland, and can be recalled at any time.
Concerned that the state's numerous regulatory commissions may be hampering the state from attracting new business, Gore said she will require that all proposed regulations be studied for their fiscal benefits. "I will ask that the author of the regulation be identified and held accoutable for that regulation's effectiveness and impact," she said.
She says she is also considering using a competitive ranking system among state departments in which past performance would determine how much funding a department would receive in the future.
Gore has made an effort in the primary to appear on every major TV debate among the candidates. One of the things she felt harmed her in the last election is a widely publicized story, which alleged that she broke down in tears just before a TV debate with Marvin Mandel because she said he had been "rude" to her to a prior TV appearance. Gore still maintains the story was untrue. And she has attempted to do radio, TV and newspaper interviews wherever she has traveled in the state with her campaign.
Beall has refused to appear on any of the debates, saying he doesn't "place a high priority" on candidates' debates during a primary.
Gore's base of operations has also changed from Montgomery County to altimore, the hub of the state's political machinery. "If you're going to be involved in Maryland politics, you've got to understand the city," she said.
Gore chose as her lieutenant governor Samuel Culotta, the last Republican to be elected to the legislature from the city. Her ticket also included Baltimore County attorney Edward Blanton for attorney general. Blanton assisted the legislature in revising the state tax forms eight years ago.
Louise Gore never married. "I guess the feelings I would have had for a family I have given to politics," she said.