The Democratic gubernatorial ticket of state Attorney General Stephen H. Sachs and Rep. Parren J. Mitchell was endorsed by three dozen candidates for county and state office in Prince George's County yesterday.
Sachs campaign officials hailed the event as a demonstration of independence in a county that has long been noted for being controlled by the Democratic organization, which this year is sympathetic to Sachs' opponent, Baltimore Mayor William Donald Schaefer.
The mass endorsement, which came at a photo-taking session in front of the County Administration Building in Upper Marlboro, contained few surprises but dramatized the potential drawing power of Mitchell, the state's senior black elected official, in a county increasingly populated by blacks.
"Parren may have helped some people decide who were leaning to Steve anyway," said Del. Pauline Menes, one of seven House members who had previously been affiliated with Sachs' candidacy.
"Most of these people were with Sachs or leaning," agreed Del. Albert Wynn, who is running for state Senate. "Parren may have firmed up some people."
Among the 36 candidates endorsing Sachs were incumbent and aspiring candidates for County Council, delegate, state Senate, central committee and other posts.
"What is happening in this county is some reconsideration, some reassessment among politicians of where they are," said Sachs.
"There are winds of change blowing in this county. Black and white voters want politicians to be independent, they are tired of the old way of doing things, and Parren Mitchell has accentuated that."
Sachs' campaign manager, Blair Lee IV, said that the county Democratic organization led by Rep. Steny Hoyer and state Sen. Thomas V. Mike Miller had been "trying for a year to split these people up and divide and conquer.
"This is a strong team that is taking on the establishment, the kind of thing that isn't supposed to happen in Prince George's."
Hoyer recently conceded that the Sachs-Mitchell team means that the organization "is going to operate a little differently this year." That will be evident in a number of legislative districts where officeholders who are divided between Sachs and Schaefer will run together on local slates carrying no gubernatorial candidate.
Sachs campaign officials emphasized that the endorsements do not mean the formation of traditional slates in which local candidates endorse each other as well as the top of the ticket.
Some of those endorsing Sachs yesterday are in fact running against each other.
"It would be inconsistent for this team which champions independence and decontrol to turn around and mimic the machine with a top-to-bottom ticket," said Lee. "We are putting a Sachs team in the field, that's what it comes down to."