Democrats in Baltimore County think County Executive Roger B. Hayden is ripe for defeat in 1994, and they're working hard to rally the once-faithful who defected to the GOP and put Mr. Hayden in office.
Kevin B. Kamenetz, county party chairman, has persuaded the last four county executives, all Democrats, to attend a $35-a-ticket affair tonight at a Belair Road catering hall.
Mr. Kamenetz, who sees Mr. Hayden as a vulnerable candidate, wants to make sure the Democrats don't spill too much political blood in their own primary and end up weakening their candidate before a general election fight against a well-financed incumbent.
Tonight's gathering brings together former county executives whose personal and political styles were often poles apart.
Dale Anderson, a traditional eastern county organization politician who held the post from 1966 to 1974, was forced from office after being convicted of federal corruption charges. He served 13 months in prison, but bounced back to be elected to a four-year term in the House of Delegates in 1982.
Theodore G. Venetoulis, county executive from 1974 to 1978, was elected as a maverick outsider and reformer, part of the move to wash away the stain of Maryland's political scandals of the early 1970s.
"It'll be fun to be there," said Mr. Venetoulis. He said Mr. Hayden "appears vulnerable, but there's a long way to go yet."
Donald P. Hutchinson was a popular, two-term conservative Democrat who served from 1978 to 1986.
Dennis F. Rasmussen, who served from 1986 to 1990, was a moderate Essex Democrat, who lost his re-election bid amid a taxpayer revolt and criticism of his aloof personal style.
Mr. Hayden "won as an anti-Rasmussen candidate. People will come back into the [Democratic] fold," Mr. Kamenetz said, promising that residents who go to the polls in 1994 will be "voting for a candidate rather than against one."
Mr. Kamenetz said he thinks the contest for county executive will be won or lost in the county's traditionally dominant east side, where, he said, "it doesn't appear the people who put [Mr. Hayden] in office are supporting him."
Democrats say that some of Mr. Hayden's actions -- raising the local income tax rate, laying off county workers, closing libraries and senior centers -- combined with his abrupt style -- have earned him enough enemies to make him vulnerable, giving Democrats a good shot at unseating him.