Q&A With Ellen Sauerbrey

Tuesday, June 2, 1998

Bob Levey
Bob Levey
(Todd Cross/TWP)
Good afternoon and welcome to""Levey Live." Iím Washington Post columnist Bob Levey, your host.

"Levey Live" appears each Tuesday from noon to 1 p.m. Eastern time. Itís your chance to talk directly to major newsmakers and to key Washington Post reporters and editors.

Our guest today is Ellen Sauerbrey, a Republican candidate for governor in Maryland.

Sauerbrey ran for the same office in 1994 and came within less than a percentage point of winning. She is challenging the man who defeated her, incumbent Democratic Gov. Parris Glendening.

Ellen Sauerbrey
Ellen Sauerbrey
(file photo)
Sauerbrey is running on many of the same issues she emphasized in 1994 -- controlling the size and cost of state government, encouraging economic growth and protecting the rights of crime victims. She is a former minority leader of the Maryland House of Delegates and a former radio and television talk show host and commentator.

Your comments and questions for Ellen Sauerbrey are welcome throughout the hour.

Bethesda, Md.: How can you expect the electorate to believe that you will dramatically reduce taxes and avoid quality service reductions in areas such as education, which ha[ve] been the result in jurisdictions with capped taxes, such as California?

Ellen Sauerbrey: John Engler, governor of Michigan, proved conclusively that reducing taxes was the key to stimulating economic growth and turning Michigan's stagnant economy into one of the fastest growing in the country. A tax cut resulted in many more jobs and increased revenue to state government and the ability to provide necessary services. Maryland job growth last year at .5 percent was far behind that of Virginia. We can and must do better.

Falls Church, Va.: What is your position on a commuter tax? Is it unfair that so much of the money generated in the District rides back out to the suburbs? How are conditions in D.C. going to improve without access to some of these funds?

Ellen Sauerbrey: I am clearly opposed to a commuter tax. The voters of Washington, D.C., need to elect responsible leadership that will encourage people to move back into the District because of improved schools and safe communities. The issue is not so much lack of money, as how the money is spent. Maryland voters should not be penalized for working in D.C.

Bethesda, Md.: Do you think the state should continue to subsidize wealthy businessmen by building sport stadiums so they can make money for their owners?

Ellen Sauerbrey: Sports stadiums are not my priority. Schools are. Textbooks are. Safe communities are. The owners of sports teams should build their own facilities just like the owner of any other business is expected to build their factory, office building or store. Congratulations to Jack Kent Cooke, who understood that it was his responsibility to build his own stadium.

Bob Levey: You were criticized for running a harsh campaign in 1994. Will we see a kinder, gentler Sauerbrey in 1998?

Ellen Sauerbrey: What you'll see is the real Ellen Sauerbrey, not the one painted by her opponents' high-priced negative television ads. The real Ellen is the daughter of a steel worker, raised in a Baltimore rowhouse by a family struggling to become middle-class, who worked her way through college and taught high school science because she loved helping kids to learn.

Salisbury, Md.: What is your stance on abortion? Especially a doctor and patient's right to chose a partial-birth abortion when it is deemed medically necessary?

Ellen Sauerbrey: As I clearly stated in 1994, I respect the right of the citizens of Maryland through referendum to take positions on such issues as abortion. Maryland citizens endorsed a very liberal abortion law. As governor, I will uphold the law. However, partial-birth abortion -- killing a child about to be born -- is closer to infanticide. The AMA testified before Congress that there is NO medical necessity for the procedure known as partial-birth abortion. And I will work to end it.

Bob Levey: Governor Glendening cut state income taxes 10 percent--not as much of a cut as you've advocated, but not chicken feed, either. How can you use this issue against him when he has already made a major cut?

Ellen Sauerbrey: Parris Glendening was dragged kicking and screaming to a promised income-tax reduction, virtually all of which must be delivered by the next governor. Parris told us clearly his own view of taxes when he suggested that if Marylanders like lower taxes, they should move to Mississippi. Governing magazine in January of 1998 rated Maryland as the second-highest income tax state in the country per capita. This is a great detriment to attracting businesses to locate in Maryland and is why the busiest road in our state is the freeway to Virginia, where so many of our citizens have to drive every day to their jobs.

Columbia, Md.: Please explain your opposition to gun control. How can you oppose this in an age when children are killing their peers?!?

Ellen Sauerbrey: I have fought for strong measures to control criminal misuse of guns. I support mandatory sentences with no access to plea bargaining or parole for anyone who commits violent crime with any kind of gun. Further, I support a mandatory one-year sentence when any previously convicted felon is caught with a gun in their possession. A child who brings a gun to school does not have that gun legally and has probably stolen it from their home or gotten it on the street. Guns in school should be treated as an adult offense.

Baltimore, Md.: What is your stance on the issue of slot machines at Maryland race tracks? How do you plan to capitalize on this issue, now that it is obviously splitting the Democratic Party.

Ellen Sauerbrey: I have a long and consistent record opposing any form of gambling to balance the state budget. Unlike my opponent, I will not put more money into the state budget to promote the state lottery or allow my administration to wheel lottery machines into nursing homes. Some say Maryland racing cannot survive without slot machines. I remain very skeptical that slots are a good answer to any problem. As governor, I will work closely with the horse industry to find better solutions to its economic competition from Delaware and West Virginia.

Rockville, Md.: What do you plan to do to stop Glendening's "get-out- the-dead" vote this year?

Ellen Sauerbrey: We're going to do our best to make sure no dead person gets to vote more than once.

Bob Levey: Half an hour remaining with our guest, Maryland Republican gubernatorial candidate Ellen Sauerbrey

Bob Levey: You'll never see a stranger vote break than Maryland saw in 1994. Glendening won only three jurisdictions, but they were the right three (Montgomery and Prince George's [counties] and Baltimore City). How do you propose to do better in those three areas this time?

Ellen Sauerbrey: With the help of [Baltimore Mayor] Kurt Schmoke and [Prince George's County Executive] Wayne Curry, who are not hesitating to let their voters know what they think of Parris Glendening, I am finding many residents of both areas are listening to the solutions that I offer to improve the lives of families and small businesses. I am warmly welcomed in Baltimore churches, Montgomery County synagogues and Prince George's County shopping centers. I am writing off no jurisdiction and no group of people. I am very proud of the quality African-American, Hispanic, Asian and Jewish leadership that are actively helping me to build relationships in their respective communities.

College Park, Md.: In 1994 you supported a 24 percent tax cut. How much do you want to cut taxes this year and where is the money going to come from?

Ellen Sauerbrey: My first goal will be to deliver the 10 percent income tax cut promised by the legislature over the next few years. In order to make Maryland competitive, I remain committed to achieving the 24 percent tax cut, because I recognize that the best way to increase revenues is by growing jobs in the economy. The election year spending spree of the current governor resembles the way he left Prince George's County. The Department of Fiscal Services projects that the ongoing spending commitments made by Parris this year will exceed expected revenues by well over a billion dollars in the next few years.

Eldersburg, Md.: As a follow-up to the gun control question, how do we PREVENT the children from getting possession of guns before they kill their peers and are then tried as adults?

Ellen Sauerbrey: I know of no gun control proposal that suggests that law-abiding families can't have a gun in their home for personal protection. Therefore, it is essential that parents take responsibility for proper supervision of any firearm so that children cannot access them at home. Children must be trained, also, to be responsible and accountable for their behavior. The best way to ensure a mentally healthy child is a loving home, a strong family and plenty of parental supervision.

College Park, Md.: In 1994, Republicans swept into office nationwide, in House and Senate elections particularly, but also in state offices, such as governor and state legislature elections. You were one of the very few -- if not only -- Republicans in the nation running for a governor's seat against a nonincumbent who lost. What makes you think that you have the chance to win in Maryland --still a heavily Democratic state -- this year -- when a Democrat is the incumbent governor and when Democrats across the nation are at significantly higher approval ratings than Republicans?

Ellen Sauerbrey: Maryland has had four years of cronyism and watching the cozy clique that has been running Maryland for too long feathering its own nest at taxpayer expense. The current governor is an underachiever. The state of Maryland is underperforming, and Maryland's citizens are ready for leadership that puts people ahead of politics.

Germantown, Md.: I work in the technology sector. During the last year, major technology firms [were] moving their headquarters into Virgnia. What are your plans to attract these firms into Maryland?

Ellen Sauerbrey: [Former Virginia governor] George Allen gave incentives to attract computer-chip factories to Virginia, while Parris Glendening was building Art Modell a football stadium. As governor, I will make Maryland more business-friendly by focusing on an improved regulatory climate, lower taxes and ensuring that first-graders learn to read, compute and, by the time they reach college, are capable of taking the courses to prepare them for the high-tech jobs of the future.

Bob Levey: What was your reaction when a columnist in Cleveland urged Maryland voters to support you? He was angry because Glendening helped "hijack" Cleveland's pro football team to Baltimore.

Ellen Sauerbrey: We were delighted to receive our first newspaper endorsement, even if it was the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Baltimore fans were happy to get a football team, but were embarrassed that it was at the expense of another city. Our fans understand team loyalty and sportsmanship! We appreciate the small contributions coming our way from upset Cleveland Browns fans.

Bel Air, Md.: On a follow-up question to Mr. Levey's earlier question about your "kindler, gentler" image: Your image was not produced by negative commercials. Your image is much more ingrained to Marylanders than that. You have always relished your bomb-thrower role, just like [House Speaker] Newt Gingrich. Why the change now? After 16 years of being harsh, are you now changing because it's an election?

Ellen Sauerbrey: If believing in lower taxes, teaching children to read, and ensuring that people can live safely in their homes and communities is bomb-throwing, then bombs away!

Bob Levey: Are you ready to make some news by telling us who your running mate will be?

Ellen Sauerbrey: Not today.

Columbia, Md.: I read that in your debate with Chuck Ecker, you said you had a good record of working with Democrats, but seems like you were more like Newt Gingrich in the legislature: a bomb-thrower. Considering that [Democrats are] going to control the legislature for the foreseeable future, how can you work with them when you made a career of antagonizing them?

Ellen Sauerbrey: The current governor hasn't had a great track record of working with the legislature. I betcha I'll do better.

Largo, Md.: Ms. Sauerbrey, who do you see as your strongest Democratic opponent, Glendening, [Eileen] Rehrmann or [Ray] Schoenke?

Ellen Sauerbrey: I don't know who the strongest is, but I'm expecting to be running against Parris Glendening and his record of failed leadership...

Bob Levey: That's it for today. Many thanks to our guest, Ellen Sauerbrey. Be sure to join us next Tuesday when our guest will be the governor of Virginia, Jim Gilmore.

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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