Is Parris burning?
State Sen. American Joe Miedusiewski thinks so. And he thinks Parris N. Glendening, the Democratic front-runner, has asked party leaders to douse the flames.
"If you want to know the bottom line, they're all getting real nervous," said Mr. Miedusiewski, who is running for governor.
The East Baltimore legislator, who has launched a series of radio attack ads against Mr. Glendening, the Prince George's County executive, yesterday jumped on a seemingly benign plea from ** Democratic party leaders asking candidates to avoid personal attacks on one another.
Mr. Miedusiewski claimed that Mr. Glendening's campaign was behind the message. Glendening forces denied it.
Baltimore City Councilwoman Vera P. Hall, the state party chairwoman, and former U.S. Rep. Michael D. Barnes, the vice chairman, issued the statement, which asks all Democratic candidates to focus on issues and on the battle against the GOP in November.
"It is perfectly appropriate for candidates in a primary to cite their differences on specific issues with other Democrats," Mrs. Hall said. "What is not acceptable are personal or ad hominem attacks on other candidates as we engage in this primary campaign."
Mrs. Hall said the timing of the statement had nothing to do with Mr. Miedusiewski's three radio spots -- the most cutting of which began airing this week.
"Yeah, and pigs are flying outside my window," Mr. Miedusiewski said.
Although the ads have run on radio stations statewide hundreds of times, Mrs. Hall said she had only heard the tail end of the first spot -- one that poked fun at the alliance between Mr. Glendening and Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke.
She said she had not heard the so-called "Barney Fife" spot, this week's ad spoofing Mr. Glendening'sexperience as police commissioner of Hyattsville, an administrative job related to his position as a city councilman.
Mrs. Hall said her statement was the result of earlier complaints about other campaigns, including local Montgomery County races and the Democratic comptroller's race, in which Rockville lawyer James B. Moorhead has attacked incumbent Louis L. Goldstein.
She did say that state party officials fielded a complaint earlier this year about Lt. Gov. Melvin A. Steinberg's gubernatorial campaign staff publication of "The Parris Review," a short-lived insider newsletter aimed at Mr. Glendening. But no complaints, she said, had been registered about Mr. Steinberg's tagging Mr. Glendening as the "$300 Million Man" Friday for his promises to spend more for state programs.
David Seldin, Mr. Glendening's campaign press secretary, said the campaign did not ask party leaders to intercede. But he said attacks by Mr. Miedusiewski and Mr. Steinberg were definitely negative.
"Yeah, I think comparing someone to a Don Knotts character would fall under the definition of an 'ad hominem attack,' " Mr. Seldin said. As for Mr. Steinberg's remarks, he said: "The manner in which the attacks have been delivered has clearly been
'negative' and 'personal' in tone."