By Kevin Mcnulty and Sarah Anchors
ANNAPOLIS – Gov. Parris N. Glendening said Wednesday the Democrats kept their grip on the State House and governor’s mansion because they supported issues important to Marylanders.
“More than any other thing, this election was a re- affirmation of the core values of this state,” said the Democrat, who beat GOP nominee Ellen R. Sauerbrey, 56 percent to 44 percent.
Glendening said voters were reacting to a strong state economy, a crackdown on crime and money pumped into school construction during his tenure and painted Democrats as the party of “inclusion” and “fairness.”
“Democrats voted in overwhelming numbers because these are the values they care about,” he said at an afternoon press conference at the State House.
But Sauerbrey blamed her defeat on a nationwide Democratic surge.
“It was like the 100-year flood,” she said at a press conference in Towson. “I think a lot of Democratic voters were motivated yesterday to save the president” from impeachment proceedings.
Political analysts said Sauerbrey lost because she couldn’t shake her extremist image in an election where voters nationwide were angry about partisan impeachment proceedings against President Clinton.
“She clearly tried to run as a moderate, but she didn’t have the record to support it. And Glendening exploited that,” said Del Ali, a senior vice president at Mason-Dixon Political/Media Research Inc.
“The Maryland Republican Party has probably been a victim of the political stupidity of their leaders in Congress,” said Keith Haller, the president of the Bethesda polling firm, Potomac Survey Research. “They had the winning playbook, but what happened is they’ve wakened this sleeping partisan giant.”
Sauerbrey denied that she failed to convince voters that she is a moderate.
“I really do not think the election turned on a liberal, moderate or conservative message,” said the Baltimore County Republican, who lost her second bid to Glendening.
Glendening’s win was broader than four years ago, when he beat Sauerbrey by fewer than 6,000 votes and carried only three jurisdictions: Prince George’s and Montgomery counties and Baltimore City.
On Tuesday night, Glendening added Howard and Allegany counties to the win column, and in unofficial returns beat her by more than 160,000 votes.
The governor won the most votes in Montgomery County, picking up 165,760 to Sauerbrey’s 99,512, according to unofficial returns.
But his margins of victory were biggest in Baltimore City and Prince George’s County. He beat Sauerbrey in Baltimore by more than a 4-to-1 margin, 126,148 votes to 29,812. He won in Prince George’s, his home, by nearly a 3-to-1 margin, 144,385 votes to 49,581, according to unofficial returns.
Sauerbrey picked up her most votes in Baltimore County, beating Glendening 118,009 votes to 115,851.
She was hoping to become Maryland’s first female governor and the state’s first Republican governor since Spiro Agnew was elected in 1966.
Sauerbrey did not say if she would run again. But, she said, her running mate, former U.S. attorney Richard D. Bennett, would make a “great candidate” in 2002. She added she will remain involved with the Republican Party. “I’m certainly not planning to go away,” she said. -30-