Walter G. Finch would like to be a household word. But he
He used to be one of those hardy perennials that surfaces in the political garden every election year.
The Republicans have Ross Z. Pierpont, the feisty Baltimore surgeon running for senator this year. It is his 13th campaign.
The Democrats have the lesser-known Walter Finch, a former perennial now resurfacing for the first time in 16 years to run for governor.
Back in the 1960s and 1970s, the Baltimore lawyer was sure to run for Senate or Congress at every opportunity: 1966, 1968, 1970, 1974, 1976 and finally 1978 for attorney general. In that last race he finished fourth out of four candidates, more than 200,000 votes behind the primary winner, Stephen H. Sachs.
His moment of glory came in 1974, with his "walking-man" strategy. He claims to have hiked all 1,436 miles of the state's border and walked through every county seat. He won one county in that primary election -- Washington -- but finished a distant third, 100,000 votes behind an obscure Baltimore City Council member, Barbara A. Mikulski.
Now Walter Finch is 76 and is embarking on one more quixotic crusade. He joins the ranks of the also-rans, who show up at
forums, spout their wild rhetoric and are forgotten. They aren't taken seriously. For good reason.
Here is what Mr. Finch is proposing in his campaign platform:
* "Develop state-of-the-art farming system to raise fish of all types, as well as crabs, oysters, terrapins, lobsters, wildfowl, clams, frogs and alligators and crocodiles for their leather."
* Construct an international airport on the Eastern Shore or in Western Maryland big enough to handle the largest jet aircraft of the world "and possibly space travel in the 21st century."
* "Construct the latest up-to-date and state-of-the-art 'Astro-Sphere' for planetary study of the heavens."
* "Construct small or medium-size atomic-energy plants on the Eastern Shore and in Western Maryland."
* "Construct a two-lane double-decker bridge or a four-lane bridge across the northern Chesapeake Bay and/or an underwater tunnel to the Eastern Shore."
* "Call a Constitutional Convention in 1996 to rewrite, clarify and revise the present antiquated State Constitution."
* "Build a modern state-of-the-art penitentiary in the Northwest, Eastern shore or Southern Maryland, and transfer all inmates to the modern structure."
* "Establish an in vitro baby-farming system for spouses who cannot have babies and who want them, together with surrogate mothers."
There is much, much more.
Such as giving all handicapped children and adults a state-paid two-week vacation at Maryland resorts and vacation areas.
Such as building a 100,000-seat athletic center in the Baltimore area.
Such as extending the light-rail transit line "to all points of the state."
Such as building a second beltway around Baltimore and another around Washington.
Such as building new monuments to Johns Hopkins and "all Maryland soldiers, sailors, etc., of all wars from the French and Indian Wars to date, either living or dead."
Such as establishing nearly two dozen new museums in Maryland for everything from antique Maryland furniture to a museum on "state wasting assets and minerals" to a museum on scouting. (Mr. Finch is a Silver Palm Eagle scout.)
This is a kitchen-sink platform. Everything remotely possible is thrown in.
Aboretums all over the state. Art works in all public buildings. More military cemeteries for veterans. Trade schools and science schools. A low-interest loan fund for the elderly, handicapped and retarded. New helicopters. New highways. New incinerators throughout the state. New hospitals. New libraries. A bigger National Guard.
Expensive, you say? Well, yeah. But Walter Finch gives a five-paragraph answer. Float $18 billion worth of bonds. Pay for it assessing each man, woman and child an extra $143 for the next 30 years.
Of course, his numbers may be a tad low. The price of building nuclear power plants is steep these days. And a 25,000-bed, high-tech penitentiary would run at least couple billion or so. Not to mention the billions for all those new roads, bridges, tunnels, -- subways, light rails, airports, stadiums, astro-spheres, etc.
Mr. Finch, in his announcement, bills himself as a "veteran lawyer-engineer and decorated hero" of World War II. He also says he is "frequently described as a 'legend' in Maryland state politics."
The Finch legend is sure to grow after this campaign. He may hold the record for biggest-spending gubernatorial candidate of all time.
Barry Rascovar is editorial-page director of The Sun. His column appears here each Sunday.