Charles A. Dutch Ruppersberger III, the Democratic front-runner in the race for Baltimore County executive, gained two more significant endorsements this week -- from the county firefighters union and from House delegation Chairman E. Farrell Maddox of Essex.
The county councilman from Cockeysville has the united support of police, teachers, blue-collar and fire unions. The Maddox endorsement also is likely to help him on the critical east side, which has no candidate of its own in this year's Democratic primary.
Groups of off-duty county firefighters and police officers were out working for Mr. Ruppersberger's campaign during the holiday weekend.
County Executive Roger B. Hayden, a Republican who is seeking re-election, yesterday criticized Mr. Ruppersberger's growing union and political support.
"People who promise everything to everybody tend to get lots of endorsements. Luckily, it's the citizens and taxpayers who have the final vote," Mr. Hayden said through spokesman Robert Hughes.
Mr. Hayden, who is out of the office while recovering from brain surgery, is running against Donald Brewer, a laid-off county worker, in the Republican primary.
Mr. Ruppersberger said he has made no promises to county workers, except to listen when they want to speak to him. He said the endorsements of public safety unions are unlike those of other labor groups because they reflect his and the public's interest in reducing crime and improving emergency medical services.
At a brief ceremony at union headquarters in Cockeysville yesterday, he reminded firefighters that he got into politics after his life was saved by paramedics during an auto accident years ago.
The lastest Ruppersberger endorsements were the result of Catonsville Sen. Nancy L. Murphy's withdrawal from the county executive's race June 24.
Kevin B. O'Connor, president of Firefighters Local 1311, said his membership had been split between supporting Senator Murphy and Mr. Ruppersberger and did not back anyone until Senator Murphy dropped out.
Mr. O'Connor and Mr. Maddox said Mr. Ruppersberger is the only candidate now who can beat Mr. Hayden. Councilman Melvin G. Mintz of Pikesville, former District Judge John C. Coolahan of Halethorpe and LaRouche Democrat Kevin Pearl of Woodlawn are the other Democratic candidates.
Mr. Maddox said that Mr. Ruppersberger has "committed to me to really work hard on older neighborhoods," citing a number of old, poorly built and crowded apartment complexes in Essex-Middle River that need renovation to attract good tenants.