The pattern of attack and counterattack continued yesterday in the campaign for Montgomery County executive, as each candidate held a news conference to malign the motives and tactics of the other.

Backers of incumbent Sidney Kramer fired the first salvo, summoning reporters to the campaign's Silver Spring headquarters for the first of yesterday's media events. Kramer campaign manager Lanny J. Davis and a cast of Kramer supporters denounced challenger Neal Potter and county State's Attorney Andrew L. Sonner for what they called "a scurrilous and maliciously false" personal attack on Kramer's honesty.

Sonner, the author of a controversial campaign brochure charging Kramer placed the interests of his real estate business ahead of citizens' interests, returned fire in his own media gathering.

"It is ironic in the extreme that Lanny Davis who . . . stands out in everyone's minds and memory {for running} the sleaziest campaign in Montgomery County politics . . . should be criticizing my conduct," Sonner said.

Sonner referred to Davis's 1976 campaign for Congress, in which campaign literature said incorrectly that Davis had graduated cum laude at Yale Law School.

"He's desperate," Davis said when told of the remark. "I told Sid that if he is attacking me instead of you, that is a plus."

And so it goes in the final days before Tuesday's Democratic primary as the news conference has evolved in the main weapon.

Sonner, flanked by Potter, was both serious and amused as he discussed the controversy started by his campaign brochure. Sonner defended the literature. He said that he never charged or suggested that Kramer was guilty of any crime by focusing on Kramer's real estate holdings.

But, he said he believed it a legitimate campaign issue that Kramer, while in office, has purchased property in Montgomery County that, Sonner said, is of a speculative nature. Sonner said that because land use is the major issue in the county, it causes concern that the leader of the government is involved in real estate transactions.

"The law permits much that wisdom condemns," Sonner said.

Sonner said he probably would have phrased the brochure differently -- not because of what it said but because of the controversy it caused.

Potter and Sonner privately met to discuss the future of the brochure. Patter said he would not distribute it but he had no objection to Sonner circulating it. A spokesman for Sonner said they decided to stand behind the literature, and would continue to pass it out.