It was just moments after the convention of Montgomery County Democrats had given County Executive Sidney Kramer its ringing endorsement, when Lanny Davis pulled out the scorecard he had been keeping -- showing off how close his predictions were to the outcome.
Davis, who is helping to manage Kramer's campaign, figured 251 votes; 256 is what Kramer got.
The tally showed just how hard the Kramer forces had worked to win last week's support of the Democrats for the '90s.
"There's no way in the world that anyone here would have predicted these numbers three months ago," Kramer said after the results were announced. Kramer's challenger, Henry Bain, a former council aide, received 51 votes and Friendship Heights Village Council Chairman Alfred Muller, who may enter the race, won 72 votes.
"Keep in mind," said one Democratic activist, "this was a group that started out wanting to lynch Kramer."
Democrats for the '90s was formed to protest the slate of candidates put together by the county executive and the Democratic council members seeking reelection. The group was upset that the incumbents met in secret -- without consulting the party regulars -- to fill the vacancies on the Montgomery ticket. The result was a series of conventions to open up the process.
There was a decidedly anti-Kramer tone to the earlier conventions. Six of the nine candidates on Kramer's council slate were spurned by the convention, and some General Assembly candidates backed by Kramer also were rejected.
For some time, the Kramer campaign waged an internal debate over whether the county executive should even seek the group's endorsement.
"We realized this was not a win-lose situation. It was no-win or lose," said one Kramer adviser, explaining that it would have been big news if Kramer were rejected but an endorsement would be seen as expected.
Kramer, acknowledging there was some debate over his attendance, said that in the end, there was no way he could ignore a gathering of 300 to 400 Democrats.
So Kramer opted to attend -- but his campaign wasn't going to leave anything to chance. A full-scale blitz was unleashed. Kramer met with precinct officials, his advisers worked the phones and one by one, supporters were signed up. By the morning of the convention, Kramer was able to announce he had the support of a majority of precinct officials and virtually all elected officials in the county. Indeed, the very Democrats who founded the group of dissidents showed up on Kramer's list as supporters.
"A lot of muscle" was the way one Democrat characterized the Kramer lobbying campaign as he reported he received two mailgrams from Kramer's camp.
Eugene Lynch, a candidate for the County Council and often a critic of Kramer's growth policies, said he thought the message of the convention to Kramer was this: "We want you to be county executive; we don't want you to be king."
Accordingly, Democrats who organized the convention said they think that officeholders will be careful in the future to be more open about ticket-making and they argued that the conventions will endure.Abortion Shapes Races
Chris Van Hollen, 31, senior legislative adviser to Gov. William Donald Schaefer, announced his candidacy for the House of Delegates -- and then immediately disclosed that he is joining an abortion-rights ticket headed by Del. Patricia Sher (D).
Sher broke ranks with the other incumbents in her District 18 to mount a challenge to Sen. Margaret C. Schweinhaut (D). Sher and Schweinhaut are longtime allies and had planned to run for reelection on the same ticket this year, but Sher said that Schweinhaut's antiabortion stand prompted her to seek the Senate seat.
Dels. Patricia Billings (D) and C. Lawrence Wiser (D) also support abortion rights, but they have said they will run with Schweinhaut because they don't believe in one-issue campaigns.
Van Hollen, a Kensington resident making his first run for political office, said that "a woman's right to choose a safe and legal abortion" is a key issue that must be addressed by the state in the event that the Roe v. Wade decision is overturned by the Supreme Court.
Joining Sher's and Van Hollen's ticket is Bethesda lawyer John Hurson.
Civic Worker Announces Run
Virginia "Ginger" Gallagher, saying she knows the concerns of her community and that her age gives her the experience to come up with solutions, is seeking a House of Delegates seat in District 15.
"I know what life is all about," said Gallagher, 74, who sees the environment and education as the major issues.
Gallagher faces a crowded Democratic field in District 15. Del. Gene W. Counihan is seeking reelection, and other hopefuls for the three seats include Sally McGarry, Wayne E. Busbice, Rosemary Glynn, Stuart D. Schooler, Fernando Bren, Joseph Foley and Dave Segal.
Del. Judith Toth (D-Montgomery) is running for the County Council and the other seat is held by Republican Jean Roesser.
Gallagher, a former Captiol Hill lobbyist who has been active in the Clarksburg civic association, said she is an opponent of abortion.
Gallagher said she opposes the location of a jail in Clarksburg, but if the facility is placed there over community objections, officials must work for rules and regulations to meet the concerns of residents.