ANNAPOLIS – Gov. Parris N. Glendening’s election victory has stanched the party’s public bloodletting, but some Democrats say the wounds may not be soon forgotten.
Democrats who endorsed Glendening’s GOP rival, Ellen R. Sauerbrey, or gave the governor only lukewarm support may be treated to cool receptions from the administration, some say.
Two of the state’s most prominent black leaders, Prince George’s County Executive Wayne K. Curry and Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, could bear most of that ire.
“They’ll be in the doghouse for the next four years,” said Blair Lee IV, a Montgomery County political commentator.
Curry and Schmoke supported Harford County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann in the Democratic primary and endorsed Glendening only a month before the general election. When they did endorse the governor Oct. 8, they didn’t invite him to the announcement.
“When it comes time for the county executives to seek help from the executive branch, the doors will open much more quickly for [Montgomery County Executive] Doug Duncan and [Baltimore County Executive] Dutch Ruppersberger,” said state Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., a Prince George’s County Democrat.
Duncan and Ruppersberger had long supported Glendening’s campaign, rallying votes in their counties. The governor won a fifth of his votes in November from Montgomery County and narrowed Sauerbrey’s margin of victory to about 3,300 votes in Baltimore County, where she won handily in 1994.
At a Nov. 4 press conference, Glendening sidestepped a question about his relationship with Curry and Schmoke, saying, “We love everyone.” But he only briefly mentioned the two, while lauding Duncan and other Democrats.
During his election-night victory speech, Glendening thanked a string of supporters, but didn’t mention Curry or Schmoke.
Curry downplayed tensions with the governor after the Nov. 4 press conference, saying the election was over and the focus should now be on education and other important issues.
“They’re both grown-ups and they’ll do what’s best for the state and county,” said Curry spokesman Reginald Parks.
Schmoke and his spokesmen did not return phone calls.
At least two Democrats who backed Sauerbrey said Glendening can’t afford to punish those who didn’t support him.
“Parris Glendening is an intelligent politician,” said
lobbyist American Joe Miedusiewski, who lost a 1994 Democratic primary to Glendening and supported Sauerbrey for “personal reasons” this year.
“You don’t go as far as Parris has gone by leaving a lot of enemies in your wake,” Miedusiewski said.
“The fact is, the election’s over, the results are in, and everybody needs to move ahead,” said James T. Brady, Glendening’s former secretary of the Department of Business and Economic Development. “If people aren’t big enough to do that, we have serious problems,” said Brady, who endorsed Sauerbrey this year.
And even Miller and other Democrats who say Glendening may react coolly to Curry and Schmoke say the governor can’t ignore them or cut aid to Prince George’s and Baltimore.
“It’s going to be out of necessity that he works with them, because of the constituencies they represent,” Miller said.
Prince George’s County and Baltimore City are two of the state’s largest jurisdictions, and many political analysts have credited the black voters there for Glendening’s win.
“The people of Baltimore City came out for him, and he’s not going to turn around and hurt them,” said Glendening spokeswoman Michelle Byrnie.
“It’s the same for Prince George’s; he won by a large margin,” Byrnie said. “He’s not going to do anything to the citizens there because of his relationship with the mayor and county executive.”
Lee said Glendening won black votes in those jurisdictions without Curry and Schmoke’s early support by campaigning with President Clinton and Maryland’s only black congressmen, Reps. Al Wynn and Elijah Cummings, and by attacking Sauerbrey’s position on a 1992 civil rights bill.
Miller and other Democrats said if relations that were tattered before the election aren’t repaired, Democratic wins in the 2002 elections could be scuttled.
“The last time we had a Republican governor, Spiro Agnew [in 1966], was after a bitter primary,” Miller said. Democrats couldn’t unite behind candidate George P. Mahoney and Agnew capitalized on their squabbling, Miller said.
State Del. Nathaniel Exum, D-Prince George’s, and other Democrats said the party has already united behind Glendening. But others said the fighting has just slipped into back rooms. “Tomorrow it will take place behind the scenes, but it will break into public view in about three years,” Lee said. -30-