Republican Helen Delich Bentley defied the naysayers yesterday by doing exactly what she said she would do all along: Give up her safe seat in Congress to run for governor of Maryland.
As recently as Wednesday, when Mrs. Bentley abruptly postponed plans to file her candidacy papers, there was speculation she might be having second thoughts. Even yesterday, when she was 40 minutes late for her rescheduled appearance at the state elections board, some people were wondering.
Mrs. Bentley had said for months,however, that such rumors were false.
When she arrived in Annapolis yesterday, she and her running mate, state Sen. Howard A. Denis of Montgomery County, conceded that they were a bit nervous.
Yet they filled out the required paperwork, handed over a pair of $290 checks to cover the filing fees, and formally jumped into this year's crowded gubernatorial sweepstakes with a few days to spare before Tuesday's 9 p.m. filing deadline.
"If you're asking me, 'Did this just come lightly?' The answer is, 'No,' " the five-term congresswoman from Baltimore County acknowledged. "A lot of thinking has gone into it. . . .
"We're doing it. That's the important thing," she said.
Based on early political polls, Mrs. Bentley is the current favorite to win the Sept. 13 Republican primary. She has two announced opponents, retired diplomat William S. Shepard of Montgomery County and state Del. Ellen R. Sauerbrey of Baltimore County.
"They have a long way to go to catch up with me on name identification," Mrs. Bentley said.
Also yesterday, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination -- Parris N. Glendening -- filed his candidacy papers at the election board. He was joined by his running mate, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.
Mr. Glendening's opponents include Lt. Gov. Melvin A. Steinberg of Baltimore County; state Sens. American Joe Miedusiewski of Baltimore and Mary H. Boergers of Montgomery County; and Lawrence K. Freeman of Baltimore, a follower of Lyndon H. LaRouche.
In contrast with Mrs. Bentley, Mr. Glendening has been pointing his career toward the governor's race for the past 3 1/2 years, since he won re-election to a third term as Prince George's County executive.
"I said back then, if we did well, I would seriously think about running for governor," he recalled yesterday.
Pulling a checkbook from his pocket to write his $290 check, Mr. Glendening said, "This is one of the best investments I've ever made."