ANNAPOLIS- Comptroller William Donald Schaefer and Gov. Parris N. Glendening have been sparring in recent weeks over projects on the Board of Public Works, but just four months ago Schaefer was actively rooting for the Glendening ticket even going so far as to donate $12,000.
Not only did Schaefer lend his well-known name to Glendening’s campaign something he declined to do in 1994 but he offered up his campaign purse as well. According to Maryland State Board of Elections records, Schaefer’s campaign contributed $6,000 each to Glendening and Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr., D-Allegany, was the only other candidate to contribute $12,000 to the ticket the maximum allowable under state law.
“Gov. Schaefer endorsed Gov. Glendening’s candidacy prior to declaring his own candidacy [for comptroller] and backed it up with financial support,” said Schaefer’s spokesman, Michael Golden. “Schaefer said then that he felt it was in the best interest of the state and felt that Gov. Glendening deserved his support.”
But the contribution is unusual in light of the testy relationship between Schaefer and Glendening, both Democrats.
“I’m a little surprised [about Schaefer’s contribution],” said political columnist Allan Lichtman. “If you had asked me to guess that, I probably would not have….Apparently they had a shared interest last year in keeping (Republican nominee) Ellen Sauerbrey out of the governorship which goes a long way toward explaining Schaefer’s endorsement and financial support.”
But the fact that Schaefer gave money to Glendening’s campaign, Lichtman said, doesn’t mean he won’t have his own opinions on the Board of Public Works.
“He is going to follow the William Donald Schaefer line and if that puts him in opposition to Glendening, so be it,” Lichtman said.
In the first two months of his term, Schaefer has done just that. As a member of the three-person Board of Public Works, he has publicly rebuked Glendening for canceling funding for a $32 million police training center near Sykesville in Carroll County and a $13 million road bypass for Brookeville in Montgomery County.
“It is vintage William Donald Schaefer to speak his mind,” said Glendening’s press secretary Ray Feldmann, who once worked for Schaefer. “He will speak out when he has an opinion and early indications are that that will happen fairly frequently.”
Glendening, chairman of the Board of Public Works, has said that the projects do not meet the criteria for Smart Growth his program to curb suburban sprawl by allowing development only in established areas.
Schaefer and Treasurer Richard N. Dixon, the third member of the board, support the projects. A hearing on the Brookeville bypass will be held March 10.
Schaefer’s recent sparring with the governor, proves that the 77-year-old’s on-again-off-again relationship with Glendening hasn’t mellowed.
“Like any other public official there are going to be disagreements and this is just one or two of those cases,” said Golden.
As for Glendening, Feldmann said, the governor has no qualms about working with Schaefer.
“William Donald Schaefer is a man who wears his heart on his sleeve,” Feldmann said, “and Parris Glendening tends to be more reserved and sometimes even shy. So it’s only natural that sometimes their styles will contrast.” -30-