The Maryland-Delaware director of Walter F. Mondale's presidential campaign is used to taking heat. As a black organizer who joined the Mondale forces in mid-1983, Michael Frazier says he has encountered more than his share of skeptical comments from Jesse L. Jackson supporters.
"The Jackson campaign was terribly emotional for black America," said Frazier, 28. "For a black American to be out on the trail telling blacks to vote for Walter Mondale instead of Jesse Jackson was a task."
For the past month, Frazier, an ambitious Democratic Party worker who hopes to capture a White House post, has been quietly making contact with black leaders in Maryland who supported Jackson's campaign. He also has been touching base with the solid bloc of party leaders who announced their support of the former vice president long before the state's May 8 primary.
"They understood that Rev. Jackson was not going to win the nomination this time," Frazier said of Jackson's backers. And, he said, they knew that blacks had to be in every candidate's camp because there could be only one presidential nominee. "Black folks have to learn not to put all their eggs in one basket," Frazier added.
Jackson's recent pledge to campaign for the ticket of Mondale and Geraldine A. Ferraro makes Frazier's job easier in Maryland, where Jackson won the popular and delegate votes in Prince George's County and Baltimore -- the state's most populous jurisdictions.
Last week, leaders of the Maryland "rainbow coalition" said they will join Jackson's national call to unity, but the intensity of their effort will be determined by actions taken by state party leaders to include them.
Frazier is not concerned.
"Maryland is solidly united to defeat Ronald Reagan. We expect their votes to help elect our candidate," he said.
"In every political instance . . . there are always going to be people who are not completely happy. We're not writing anyone off, even the ones who sound discontent now."
Getting Jackson to come to Maryland would go a long way toward consolidating the Jackson votes for Mondale, Frazier said. "He's the one who turns people on."
Frazier, a native of Somerset, Pa., graduated with a political science degree from the University of Connecticut in 1979 and immediately moved to Boston, where he worked in the successful reelection campaign of Democratic mayor Kevin H. White.
Two days after White won, Frazier said, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) announced his intention to run for president. Frazier, who even now sees himself as "Kennedy-esque" in philosophy, then moved to Washington to work on that campaign.
When Kennedy withdrew his nomination bid in favor of President Carter, Frazier shifted to the Carter-Mondale campaign. After the general election defeat, Frazier decided to stay in Washington, took a job as a constituent worker in D.C. Mayor Marion Barry's office and later worked on the mayor's reelection campaign.
That track record, Frazier says, shows that in spite of his youth he was experienced enough to qualify for the state director's post.
The Mondale-Jackson rift has been the number one priority in Frazier's Maryland effort, which will be based primarily in a downtown Baltimore office. Most of his time is spent traveling throughout Maryland and in Delaware, where a Mondale victory is not as likely.
A second office will be opened in Prince George's County in the near future, Frazier said, giving the campaign a presence on the county level that should help mollify suburban Washington Democrats.
Although some local political activists initially voiced resentment about a District resident being appointed to run a Maryland campaign, backers of Jackson and Mondale seem supportive of Frazier's plans.
It is support he has learned to win through experience. There is nothing he could have learned in college that would have prepared him for being a full-time political organizer, he said, adding that because he is black, he has done a lot of organizing -- "political troubleshooting" -- in minority communities.
"The fact that I'm the state director in Maryland shows that Mondale is committed to moving minorities into leadership positions within the campaign," he said. "The other reason I'm here is because I know what I'm doing. I've paid my dues, and I'm good.
"Whites in this position are considered to be aggressive young men on the move," he added. "Blacks in the same position are considered obnoxious."
Frazier adds that by having paid his dues to the Mondale organization, he would have had a significant role in the final rush toward the general election even if there had been no Jackson movement.
"I would have been here in any case," he said.
Frazier said he plans to work "hand-in-hand" with the state's Democratic leadership, which, except for an instance or two, has been pro-Mondale.
The elected officials, the party leaders, the Jackson supporters, the representatives of organized labor and others will act as "co-equal" partners on the state "strategy council," Frazier said.
"Elected officials in Maryland have the ability to deliver votes," Frazier added, saying that Rep. Parren J. Mitchell (D-Md.) and state Del. Wendell Phillips, a Baltimore minister who was a Jackson delegate to the national convention, will be offered campaign posts.
Those Jackson people, he said, will fit well into the Mondale organization. In exchange, Frazier said, he would like to see increased black participation in Mondale-Ferraro fund-raising activities. Some call this mutual backscratching. Frazier calls it "political monetary reciprocity."
If Mondale defeats Reagan, Frazier has this forecast for his own future: "I would assume that there would be some place for me in the White House."
If Reagan wins: "I'll be like a lot of other people out there trying to survive."
Frazier said he has one more presidential campaign left in him if Mondale loses, and he hopes that will be for Kennedy, perhaps in 1988. If that is not to be, he said, "I'll go back home to wherever I decide home is and plan my own political future.