On the issues at least, the battle for the Republican nomination for Prince George's County executive could be called the "I'm more like Larry Hogan than you are" contest.
Candidate Ann Schoch says "I'd like to continue the programs of Larry Hogan in bringing businesses to the county from elsewhere. I think he's established a super record across the county."
Candidate William J. Goodman, a Democrat-turned-Republican, says his philosophies "are basically that of Larry Hogan . . . . He said what he wanted to do and did it. [He set] an open-door policy to business."
Since County Executive Hogan, the successful Republican officeholder in the overwhelmingly Democratic county, announced last fall that he would run for the U.S. Senate instead of seeking reelection, Goodman and Schoch have been struggling to become heir to the Hogan throne. The fight is not over whether the contenders like what Hogan has wrought, but how much they like it and how forcefully they'll say so.
"I think Hogan did an excellent job on the budget," said Schoch (pronounced shock), a 42-year-old park and planning commissioner, of the battle over the fiscal 1983 budget. "If anything I'd have tried to work with the unions a little bit more," she added delicately, "to let them know . . . what was coming." (Teachers' union leaders said Hogan made drastic and unfair cuts in education spending that led to the layoffs of 500 teachers, while Hogan said the teachers demanded a contract that paid no heed to fiscal realities.)
"I don't believe a public employe is any more entitled to the charity of a lifetime job" than anyone else, said Goodman, 52, in blunt language that closely resembled one of Hogan's many diatribes against the teachers who, Hogan has said, "think we can just conjure up money in a biology lab."
"If I were county executive I would demand an immediate cost-benefit analysis of the school system's managerial weaknesses," Goodman added, "It's scholastically weak."
Though the two candidates arrive at their views from vastly different beginnings, they seem to agree on the obvious issues, and both provide the voters with some clear philosophical alternatives to the Democratic candidates.
Both Goodman and Schoch call economic development a top priority, as did Hogan four years ago, and both say that development should be concentrated in the more populous north. Both are ambivalent about court-ordered busing, want fewer moderately priced homes built in the county, and say that county government, particularly the school system, can economize further without a major impact on the quality of services.
On perhaps the most important and potentially explosive issue in the general election campaign, the future of the county's legally mandated cap on property tax revenue (known as TRIM, for Tax Reform Initiative by Marylanders), both agree with Hogan that TRIM should be left intact. Most Democratic candidates this year want TRIM amended now.
Goodman, a former gadfly state legislator who coauthored TRIM, views his candidacy in part as a defense of the amendment he worked to see passed four years ago. He left the Democratic party earlier this summer, he said, to counteract their collectively "arrogant approach to the TRIM amendment."
While their stands on issues are similar, their respective supporters say their different personalities and backgrounds constitute important differences.
Schoch, a former music teacher who lives in Fort Washington, is virtually a lifelong Republican who came to Prince George's in 1963. She became involved in politics through the League of Women Voters and the Republican Central Committee, and was a citizen supporter of the 1974 effort to have the Capital Centre built.
She ran unsuccessfully for the County Council in 1978, coming in ninth out of a field of 15, and was also unsuccessful in a 1974 bid for a House of Delegates seat. In 1979, Hogan appointed her to the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, one of the county's few remaining patronage jobs. She had planned to run for County Council this year when some leading Republican businessmen came a-calling.
"Almost everybody I've talked to in the party felt that Goodman wasn't acceptable," Schoch said. Supporters offered to help her raise funds and organize her campaign if she would switch races. She raised a quick $14,500, opened an office, and was endorsed in her primary race by the political wing of the county's Chamber of Commerce.
Schoch hopes to capitalize on her longstanding involvement with GOP and a conciliatory approach to problem solving.
"I'm not much of a confrontation person," she said. "I'd lock myself in a closet and count to 10 and come back out. I don't want to say I get along better with people. I'd just like to say I'm comfortable working with people."
Campaign manager Thomas Kelley says Schoch can win because "she's very representative of the people of the county." Plus, said Kelley, " I think she's a better standard bearer for the party than Bill Goodman."
Goodman, on the other hand, considers himself the Republicans' best hope against the well-oiled Democrats, and many local Republicans seem to agree.
"Let me try to tell you diplomatically," replied Katherine (Dee) Garnett, one of more than half a dozen Republican Central Committee members who support Goodman. "I consider Ann a friend but . . . he is qualified. And he is electable."
Central committee member LouEtta Beard was more blunt: "I just don't think she Schoch could handle a major crisis."
Goodman, a Lanham resident and employe of the telephone company, started in politics in the early 1960s, when the new suburbanites ran against the then rural-dominated Democratic organization. "We were the outsiders looking in," he recalled of a group that included Gladys Spellman and Francis Francois, who later became the tightly knit insiders Goodman would rail against.
Goodman served in the House of Delegates from 1962 to 1970, and a term in the state Senate, before he was dropped from the Democratic organziation ticket and subsequently lost his reelection bid. By then he had become a prominent environmentalist and proponent of various fiscal accountability measures.
He switched his party affiliation in the last few hours of the May 14 deadline, citing philosophical incompatibility with the Democrats, and soon after announced his decision to run for executive.
What he lacks in financial backing (so far he has raised about $8,000, much of it his own money) he expects to make up with the organizational help of grass-roots Republicans. He recently was endorsed by the Prince George's Republican Club.
Among his supporters are some key Hogan aides, and Goodman already has bought $6,000 worth of voter research by nationally known pollster V. Lance Tarrance and Associates. His strategy is to ignore Schoch, to develop strong relationships with Republican activists, and to focus on the general election. Once in office he says he would have no problem adopting the confrontative Hogan style.
Hogan, himself facing an uphill battle for the Senate, is quietly supporting him. "I encouraged Bill Goodman to get into the race and to switch parties so I kind of feel at least some obligation to be supportive of him,," said Hogan.
The Democrats are apt to respond to questions about their Republican challengers with statements like, "Opponents? What opponents?" They point out that that the leading Democratic candidate, Parris Glendening, has been organizing his campaign for months, has raised more than $150,000, and has picked up virtually every endorsement considered worth having. Many of them feel that the GOP's failure to unite behind one candidate early in the race will hurt the party badly this year.
"I've come to the conclusion that up until the last year the Republicans went through the eight-year cycle and only won one office and just didn't try to build the party," said Glendening. "I heard this from Larry Jr. He said his father was the Republican party, and without him there is no election."