Democrat Clinton campaigning in Md. Presidential primary still "wide open," party leader says.


WASHINGTON -- Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton will be campaigning in Maryland tonight with no pointed messages for special interest groups.

"It is our feeling that [Clinton's] message targets everyone," said Joel Rozner, a Baltimore lawyer and co-director of the candidate's campaign in Maryland. "He doesn't go out with a message for Jewish voters, or black voters, or people from Maryland or Arkansas. He's sending one message to the whole U.S.A. and all of Maryland."

Mr. Clinton, the governor of Arkansas, bases his campaign on the idea of a "new covenant" between the government and citizens. His plan emphasizes national health care, tax cuts for the middle class, universal access to education and training, and community service.

Tonight, Governor Clinton is scheduled to address a meeting of the state Democratic Central Committee and attend $1,000-a-head fund-raisers in Annapolis and Potomac.

Although Governor Clinton is generally considered the front-runner among the five major Democratic candidates, Maryland's March 3 primary is still "wide open," according to Nathan Landow, chairman of the Maryland Democratic Party.

But the campaigns of Governor Clinton and Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa "seem to be the best organized [and] very active. . . . I think we'll see a lot more activity from these candidates in the next few weeks," Mr. Landow said.

Fund-raising for Mr. Clinton has exceeded expectations, according to Jerry Evans, a lawyer who heads the state campaign's finance committee.

A recent reception in Annapolis netted about $75,000, better than the expected $50,000, and the two fund-raising events scheduled tonight already have brought in more than the amounts targeted, Mr. Evans said.

"The outpouring has been just fantastic," Mr. Evans said, adding that more conservative members of the party, who tend to favor Governor Clinton, often have deep pockets.

Mr. Clinton's clearest edge over the other candidates is in endorsements from elected public officials.

Maryland Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein is one of more than 100 elected officials who has pledged to support Governor Clinton, according to Jay Rouse, the Arkansan's Maryland campaign coordinator.

Senator Harkin, by contrast, has received about a dozen endorsements and Sen. Robert Kerrey of Nebraska nine, according to officials of their campaigns.

Other Maryland supporters of Governor Clinton include Rep. Tom McMillen, D-4th; state Sen. Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., president of the Maryland Senate; Lucille Maurer, the state treasurer; Secretary of State Winfield M. Kelly Jr.; and five of Baltimore's 18 City Council members.

Page Boinest, a spokeswoman for Gov. William Donald Schaefer, said that although "there has been no formal endorsement yet . . . in general, the governor is looking favorably upon Clinton."

Being from a rural Southern state can work both for and against Governor Clinton in Maryland. His campaign strategists said they expect voters on the Eastern Shore and in Southern and Western Maryland to exhibit a natural affinity for him.

But Governor Clinton's background and conservatism may harm his chances with Maryland black voters, who provide about 32 percent of the vote in Maryland Democratic primaries.

"The black vote is up for grabs," said Martin O'Malley, a Baltimore city councilman and the head of Mr. Kerrey's Maryland effort. "WithClinton positioned to the right, that leaves the black vote open to Kerrey."

On the other hand, five of the eight black delegates to the General Assembly from Prince George's County have endorsed Governor Clinton, Mr. Rozner said, as have four of the five black Baltimore City Council members.

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad