The wide open race for the 5th District seat of disabled former congresswoman Gladys N. Spellman became even more unsettled today as the Maryland-D.C. AFL-CIO declined to endorse former State Sen. President Steny Hoyer.

The vote here was seen as a boost for state Sen. Edward T. Conroy (D-Prince George's) who had lobbied hard to prevent the group from seconding Hoyer's endorsement Monday by the Greater Washington Central Labor Council. Today's vote was 16-14 to accept the Central Labor Council's recommendation, but that was four votes short of the number needed for an endorsement.

"The action allows each and every local union to support the candidate of their choice," said Thomas M. Bradley, president of the Maryland-D.C. AFL-CIO. In fact, many if not most of the Prince George's County locals are expected to work for Hoyer anyway.

Speculation that Conroy might withdraw from the race had been building since an ad hoc labor coalition endorsed Hoyer last week. "I didn't withdraw from the U.S. Senate race," said Conroy, who lost that contest in the fall to Sen. Charles McC. Mathias (R-Md.). "I'm not going to withdraw against Steny Hoyer."