ANNAPOLIS – A recent day on the campaign trail for Tim Mayberry went like this: Exchange Club breakfast in Hagerstown at 7 a.m., Rotary luncheon in Silver Spring at 11 a.m., Family Bible Ministries meeting in Baltimore at 2 p.m., fund-raising dinner in Cambridge until 10 p.m. and a midnight campaign staff meeting.
He didn’t go to bed until 3 a.m.
But Mayberry, a Republican, needs the exposure if he hopes to beat Maryland’s political grandfather, the always-campaigning Comptroller Louis Goldstein, a Democrat.
It has been Mayberry’s goal since 1994, when he upset Republican National Committeeman Richard Taylor in the primary race for comptroller before losing to Goldstein by a 61-39 margin.
His platform is the same this time around except for one change — Goldstein, first elected comptroller in 1958, has been in office four years longer and Mayberry says the time for change is even more overdue.
“There’s a need for a change and has been for some time,” said Del. John Morgan, R-Prince George’s. “I think a little fresh blood is in order.”
But pollsters say Mayberry has his work cut out for him.
Elected to the House of Delegates in 1938 and then to the state Senate in 1946, the only election Goldstein ever lost was a Democratic primary against Joseph Tydings for the U.S. Senate in 1964.
“He’s like God. He’s probably an institution,” said Del Ali, senior vice president of Mason-Dixon Political/Media Research. Ali said Goldstein is to Maryland what Strom Thurmond is to South Carolina.
And Goldstein does not rest on the name recognition brought by 60 years in state politics. Goldstein, 85, gives between 200 and 250 speeches a year and could show up at anything from a ribbon-cutting ceremony to a ritzy Democratic fund-raiser.
Still, Mayberry feels he has to take the chance.
“It’s something that if I didn’t try, I’ll probably hate myself for the rest of my life,” Mayberry said.
He campaigns on a promise to save taxpayers $200 million by encouraging competition for state projects, depositing checks more quickly and ensuring prompt tax refunds and payment of state bills.
Goldstein derides Mayberry’s proposed savings as a “myth.” Marvin Bond, a spokesman for Goldstein, said the numbers are “without basis” and that some reforms proposed by Mayberry do not pertain to the comptroller’s office.
But Mayberry defends his plan, which he said is based on state audit reports.
“I’ll do what the auditors are suggesting. That’s my platform,” Mayberry said.
In the meantime, he is running a full-time campaign to convince Maryland voters that the comptroller’s job is important and that he — not the 40-year incumbent — is the man for it.
Mayberry has already put nearly 13,000 miles on the 1997 Geo Metro LSi hatchback he bought in December, driving it to at least four counties a day.
“I’ve gone to the disposable car concept,” Mayberry said in his coarse voice of the green car with the “Mayberry for Comptroller” stickers on each side of the rear bumper.
The car is typical of Mayberry, who lives with his parents in Boonsboro. There are no tailored suits, no big fund-raisers or lucrative business to support his campaign. The 42-year-old, self-employed banking consultant brags on his Internet website that he is a “non-politician” who can bring change to state government.
“I have expertise in economics,” Mayberry said. “This is an economic job.”
Mayberry grew up in Silver Spring, attending Georgetown Prep High School and later George Washington University, where he majored in biology.
He has always been interested in politics and had worked on campaigns since his teens, including Connie Morella’s successful 1986 and 1988 congressional runs.
After finishing college in 1981, Mayberry took a year off to save money for medical school. But his part-time college job working for Union Trust Bank — now Signet Bank — developed into a career. Five years later, he was in bank management.
In 1991, he moved to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., where he analyzed financial institutions. While there, Mayberry said he grew unhappy with Maryland audit reports and disappointed by the way state funds were handled. He thought he could do better.
In the meantime, Mayberry and his wife of six years, Anne, divorced in 1992. They had no children. After a 1993 car accident that left his hands temporarily paralyzed, Mayberry moved in with his parents. He also left the FDIC in 1993 and went into business for himself as a consultant.
That freed him up to run for comptroller.
“Tim literally killed himself running a schedule of 22 hours a day,” in the 1994 election, said Dee Richards, his mother and manager of both his 1994 and 1998 campaigns.
But Mayberry’s handshaking and baby-kissing paid off: In the primary, he beat a heavily favored Taylor, who is still deciding if he will run again this year.
Even though he carried only three of the state’s 24 counties in the 1994 race against Goldstein, Richards said Mayberry “ran against Louie better than anyone else had,” winning 39 percent of the vote.
He has been running ever since.
When Morgan made a congressional bid in 1996, he saw Mayberry in “every corner of the state,” he said.
“I’m really impressed by the shoe leather and sweat equity he’s invested so far,” Morgan said.
This time around, Mayberry is beefing up support in counties where he was weak, solidifying Republican backing and telling everyone that four decades of Goldstein is enough.
Mayberry, who spent $17,000 on his 1994 campaign, has no paid staffers for his latest low-budget run. He has six official campaign workers, including Richards, campaign chairman Boyd Cook and treasurer C.T. Henney, and about 600 volunteers throughout the state. None are paid, he said.
Mayberry is running a “non-attack” campaign, though he frequently rebuts Goldstein’s responses to his plan, Richards said.
“We don’t believe in attacking anyone,” Richards said. “We don’t think a man of 42 should try to hammer a man of 85. That isn’t right.
“We have too much respect for him,” Richards said.
Besides, Mayberry thinks attack tactics sour voters and reinforce public feelings that politicians are corrupt.
“I do not run attack campaigns,” Mayberry said. “I think all they do is damage the political process.”
At the same time, Mayberry has to convince voters that the comptroller and his 1,200-employee office are important.
The comptroller supervises state fiscal affairs, collects tax money and issues refunds, issues checks for state employees and serves on the Board of Public Works — a three-member panel that approves funds for the state’s capital construction programs.
Even though Goldstein’s name is recognized throughout the state, people do not know what he does, Mayberry said.
“It’s a very powerful position. I don’t think it’s being taken very seriously,” Morgan said. “It’s well worth wondering if a new person can bring new ideas and energy to the office.”
Mayberry will try to inform voters about the comptroller’s duties and show how the job touches everyone’s lives, Richards said. She said it is more than the ceremonial ribbon-cutting and speech-making that Goldstein has become known for.
But since Goldstein is good at that, Richards said, Comptroller Mayberry would propose making Goldstein the full-time Ambassador of Goodwill for Maryland, making public appearances and promoting the state.
“We don’t want to put him out to pasture,” Richards said. “There is work for Louie to do.”
Mayberry, meanwhile, juggles his campaign with his volunteer work on the boards of Baltimore’s St. Agnes Hospital, St. John’s Shelter for the Homeless in Hagerstown and Children’s Village in Hagerstown, where the director calls him “a tremendous asset.”
But he keeps running.
If he were to win, Mayberry would be the first Republican comptroller since 1898 when Phillips Goldsborough held the position.
“We really believe that we’re going to win,” Mayberry said. “If that happens, this will be a history-making election.”