BOSTON – Four years ago, then-Gov. Parris Glendening led the Maryland delegation at the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, then was dispatched to a half-dozen key battleground states to campaign on behalf of presidential candidate Al Gore. Some even speculated he would be tapped for a Cabinet position in a Gore administration.
Today, Glendening is here for this year’s national party convention, but his situation couldn’t be more different. He is attending the convention as an unpledged, add-on delegate, holds no elected position, will not be speaking on the convention floor and has not been asked to criss-cross the nation on behalf of John Kerry.
Isiah “Ike” Leggett, chairman of the Maryland Democratic Party, praised Glendening, calling him the Maryland Democratic Party’s “senior spokesman” and the delegation’s “standard bearer.”
Ronald Walters, a political science professor at the University of Maryland, called Glendening’s presence at the convention “largely symbolic.” “Here’s a guy who has earned his stripes. This is one of the ways you reward people of his stature,” Walters said. Giving former elected leaders membership in the delegation keeps them involved, if only marginally, in the symbolism of the electoral process, Walters said.
Former governors are a political resource that often go to waste, Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley said.
“People who have served our people and our party . . . as governor still have a lot to contribute,” O’Malley said. “People’s wisdom and experience are (often) discarded at the top of their game. . . I hope he stays involved.” At a delegation breakfast Tuesday morning, O’Malley told the former governor: “I miss you, man.” Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. said Glendening’s presence at the convention was an opportunity to demonstrate that Marylanders appreciated his work as governor from 1995 to 2003.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. praised Glendening’s record on funding education and preservation, saying he left behind an “important legacy.”
But Miller said that by the end of his time in office, “Glendening fatigue set in,” adding, “He irritated a lot of people along the way.” Standing on the floor of the Fleet Center Monday night, with music blaring and politicians lining up to take the podium for a few fleeting minutes of fame, Glendening was beaming. With his left arm flung around the shoulder of his son, Raymond, a Kerry campaign volunteer in Ohio attending his first convention, the former governor said he was as excited as he was at his first national political convention more than 20 years ago. “I’m loving it,” he said. Glendening has been fundraising for some state legislative candidates and has expressed interest in campaigning for Kerry, though he has not yet been tapped for a specific role, Leggett said.
Glendening declined to speculate on a possible post in a Kerry administration or a return to electoral politics. “I’m loving what I’m doing right now,” he said.
Glendening is the president of the Smart Growth Leadership Institute, a coalition of advocacy groups that works to fight urban sprawl and preserve open spaces and the environment.
One of the few times Glendening has re-emerged in the public spotlight was earlier this month with the trial of Nathan A. Chapman Jr., a former state pension fund money manager and political ally of Glendening who was indicted in March for funneling money illegally into his own company, eChapman.com, an investment which lost the state millions of dollars. – 30 – CNS-7-27-04