Republican county executive candidate Ann Shoch, ignoring Prince George's County's 3-to-1 Democratic registration advantage, decided to give county Democrats a last-minute hand at the polls yesterday by distributing her own "Official Democratic Sample Ballot."
Blue-and-white leaflets bearing the name of Shoch's treasurer listed Democratic General Assembly candidates in the 21st Legislative District as "recommended candidates," then added Shoch's name in bold letters for the county executive slot. Three other local Republican candidates were also listed.
Inside, the brochure showed Democratic and Republican voting booth lines, with the name of her opponent, Democratic county executive candidate Parris Glendening, blanked out. Shoch, outspent 10-to-1 and with no significant endorsements, was considered the underdog in the race.
According to irate Democrats, who tried in vain to get a court order to stop the leaflets yesterday, the brochures' wording was tailored to the specific races in each of at least four of the seven legislative districts.
"If you need something like that to elect a candidate, something must be wrong with them," said State Sen. Arthur Dorman from the 21st District.
Shoch's campaign manager, Tom Kelley, said that "somebody in the campaign had something to do with it" but that he did not know who was responsible.
"It's nothing that hasn't been done before within their own party," said Kelley. "It's probably being blown out of proportion."
"I've seen some dumb campaign tricks but this is one of the dumbest," said Ronald Schiff, Glendening's campaign manager. "I think they've misread the voters and not given them enough credit for intelligence."