ANNAPOLIS, DEC. 18 -- Clamoring for Cuomo? Marylanders may have the chance to vote for New York's politically elusive governor. Ready to draft Iacocca? They might have the opportunity to vote for the Chrysler Corp. chairman, too, but only as a Republican.
Maryland Secretary of State Winfield M. Kelly Jr. is assigned the job under state law of coming up with the state's bona fide list of presidential candidates for the March 8 primary. And this time it is more than the usual suspects.
Iacocca and former U.N. ambassador Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, a Montgomery County resident, have been added to the announced candidates on the Republican side, even though there is some disagreement about whether Iacocca is a Democrat or Republican.
Mario Cuomo and U.S. Sens. Bill Bradley of New Jersey and Sam Nunn of Georgia were selected along with the seven announced candidates on the Democratic side. Gary Hart was already on the list.
The only question now is whether the anointed and possibly reluctant candidates will go along with it.
In the Iacocca camp, "Every four years we have to live through this," said Baron Bates, vice president for public relations for Chrysler Motors. He pointed out that Iacocca has signed a four-year contract with Chrysler Corp. and that a committee to draft him to run as a Democratic candidate disbanded this year.
A spokeswoman for Cuomo said it was the first state she had heard from to actually ready the governor's name for the ballot. "He wants to make it clear that he has discouraged each and every" drive to put his name on the ballot in New York and elsewhere, said press aide Kathleen Meehan.
Under Maryland law, it is the sole responsibility of the secretary of state to pick the candidates for the ballot, requiring him to draw from candidates "generally advocated or recognized in the media." A candidate can have his or her name withdrawn only by returning an affidavit stating that he or she will not be a candidate in the Maryland primary.
The responsibility did not make Kelly feel like a kingmaker. "Every four years I'm a powerbroker?" he said. "I hadn't thought of it that way."
Because of the different requirements in party rules, Kelly sent the "I'm-pleased-to-inform-you" letters to Republicans on Dec. 9, and their objections must be returned by Dec. 28. Letters to Democrats were mailed on Tuesday, and they have until Jan. 4 to respond. No one has yet sent regrets, but it is still early.
More than a dozen states have laws similar to Maryland's, including California and Florida. Most, though, have committees picking the candidates, or they give the responsibility to the political parties. Virginia is an example of the latter. The ballot there is made up of the six announced Republican candidates and all of the announced Democrats except Hart, who still has time to get on the ballot.
Kelly said he included the names of candidates who have said they are not running because the race this year is "wide open" and because they all have the chance to say no.
Iaccoca officially is neither a Republican nor a Democrat. But Kelly declared him a Republican because Iacocca has contributed to the GOP and his biography mentions his voting more often as a Republican.