Maryland's primary candidates tried different tacks yesterday as their campaigns sailed towards tomorrow's vote, but their activities typically were mapped to keep them away from rocky waters.

In Montgomery County, Neal Potter took his grass-roots campaign for county executive to a folk festival in Takoma Park and shopping centers in Germantown. The man he seeks to oust, incumbent Sidney Kramer, spent much of the day at his office at home with a stack of government work.

Over in Prince George's County, about 20 candidates for state and local offices, including County Executive Parris N. Glendening, thought the best place to be on a Sunday afternoon was pledging support to about 200 senior citizens rallying in Hyattsville to stop the closing of Eugene Leland Hospital.

The two Democrats in Prince George's 5th Congressional District race campaigned with other political heavyweights yesterday. Rep. Steny H. Hoyer appeared with Gov. William Donald Schaefer and other prominent Maryland Democrats at a rally for Democrats in the 25th Legislative District last night, while challenger Abdul Alim Muhammad spent most of the day campaigning with Nation of Islam leader, Minister Louis Farrakhan.

The day's events were typical of the 1990 primary season: Challengers are trying to build grass-roots support in their attempts to oust favored, and frequently much-better-funded, incumbents.

The abortion issue also has energized many contests for the General Assembly, where the fight over abortion rights will intensify next year.

Montgomery County Executive Kramer said he had to spend much of the day at home yesterday working on county business.

Kramer started the day at the Olney Theater to kick off a fund-raising drive.

"I'm feeling very good," Kramer said of the response from supporters in Olney. He added that he had "good vibes" about tomorrow's election.

At a pre-primary rally of supporters last night, Kramer told about 150 people that the race has been "a drain and a strain."

Tomorrow's results would show "a close race," Kramer said, and he exhorted his supporters to work hard.

In the festive atmosphere, Kramer had harsh words for his opponent.

"I've never had to climb in the mud as this opposition has forced us to do," Kramer said, speaking in a ballroom that was decorated with yellow and black balloons. "I believe retribution will come to those who deserve it."

Potter, meanwhile, professed not to be tired, but rather invigorated by the last days of his campaigning, which has him crisscrossing the county.

The veteran County Council member started the day ushering at morning services at Chevy Chase United Methodist Church, then headed to the politically friendly territory of Silver Spring and Takoma Park for that community's annual folk festival.

"Good luck, Neal, we're rooting for you," Tony Hauser of Silver Spring cheered as he sat on a hill listening to the strains of folk music.

In Hyattsville, about 20 political candidates for state and local offices found a safe issue to get behind. They all converged on a rally to prevent the closing of Eugene Leland Hospital.

Passing out brightly colored literature and shaking hands, the candidates repeatedly assured about 200 senior citizens hosting the rally that they oppose the proposal by Adventist Health System, which owns Leland, to transfer most of the 120 beds to other hospitals and close the facility.

Betterment for United Seniors, the sponsoring seniors group, awarded "white hats" -- really straw boaters decorated with Save Leland bumper stickers -- to state legislators who have pledged to fight the proposed closing.

Hoyer appeared at a rally for 25th District Democrats at the Penn-Mar shopping center attended by about 250 people. Many wielded red, white and blue paper fans that read "Steny Hoyer for Congress."

Crisscrossing his congressional district yesterday, Hoyer also visited a rally for 27th Legislative District Democrats in Brandywine and spoke at a Veterans of Foreign Wars post in College Park.

The day's low-key tone was typified by Farrakhan's afternoon news conference, when the often-fiery orator proved uncharacteristically circumspect.

Instead of repeating his scathing attacks on local political leaders for not addressing black concerns, Farrakhan said simply that voters should pull the lever for Muslim candidates because "it's time for a change in Prince George's County, it's time for a change in Washington, D.C., in fact it's time for a change in the world."

Muhammad, who serves as Farrakhan's national spokesman, is one of three Nation of Islam candidates running for local office this year. The others are George X Cure, a lawyer who is vying for the D.C. congressional seat being vacated by mayoral candidate Walter E. Fauntroy, and Shawn X Brakeen, a schoolteacher running for an at-large D.C. school board seat.

Farrakhan said Muhammad represents a "change from those kinds of politicians who have sold their souls to machines rather than offer themselves to the people who they purport to represent. We need politicians who have their ear to the people's hearts and needs and are willing to stand up for the poor instead of bowing down to the rich."

Prince George's State's Attorney Alex Williams (D), speaking at the 25th Legislative District rally said of the congressional contest, "There's a lot of people across the nation looking at this race.

"We want to show them that in Prince George's County we are not looking at race; we are not looking at anything other than the qualifications of the candidates."

Staff writer Brooke A. Masters contributed to this report.