In another boost to his gubernatorial campaign, front-running Democrat Parris N. Glendening won the endorsement yesterday a coalition of state environmental leaders.
The Maryland League of Conservation Voters praised Mr. Glendening for his 12-year record as Prince George's County executive and his proposals on statewide issues.
"Glendening has a good environmental track record in Prince George's County and has embraced the environment as one of his top priorities as governor," said Joan S. Willey, chairman of the league, a political action committee.
The league's board is made up of leaders of most of the state's environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, Save Our Streams and the Maryland Waste Coalition.
Board members said the endorsement would bring environmentally concerned volunteers into the Glendening camp.
"We can do more with people than with money," said John Kabler, a regional director of Clean Water Action.
Mr. Kabler applauded Mr. Glendening for his service on the Maryland Critical Area Commission, which guides development around the Chesapeake Bay, and for Prince George's County's record on forest preservation and recycling.
Closer to home, some Prince George's environmentalists are critical of his tenure, in particular his perceived pro-development tilt.
"He thinks of himself evidently as an environmentalist, but there are times when you say, 'Wait a minute, if you're an environmentalist, what does that make me?' " said Frank Hodal, a member of the executive committee of the Prince George's branch of the Sierra Club.
Mr. Glendening -- who has also been endorsed by builders and real estate groups -- said at yesterday's announcement that it is not impossible to balance economic growth with environmental concerns.
"I believe that is a false dichotomy," he said. "It is a myth put forward by those who favor the status quo. We can clean up the environment while promoting job opportunities."
He said that as governor he would expand recycling, improve mass transportation and work closely with neighboring states in Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts.
Attending yesterday's ceremony at the Baltimore Rowing Center South Baltimore were former Gov. Harry R. Hughes, who is credited with leading the drive to clean up the Chesapeake Bay in the mid-1980s, and state Del. Brian E. Frosh, a leading lawmaker on environmental issues. Both had previously announced their support for Mr. Glendening.
A spokesman for the Republican front-runner, U.S. Rep. Helen ++ Delich Bentley, had no comment. But Mr. Glendening's three main opponents in the Sept. 13 Democratic primary defended their environmental credentials.
Hirsh Goldberg, a spokesman for Lt. Gov. Melvin A. Steinberg, said he was "surprised" at the endorsement, noting that Mr. Steinberg had worked for important environmental legislation.
State Sen. American Joe Miedusiewski of Baltimore voted favorably on "the three most important environmental issues to come out of the Senate," said campaign manager James Brochin, citing protection of nontidal wetlands, preservation of Chesapeake Bay critical areas and a statewide reforestation program.
State Sen. Mary H. Boergers of Montgomery County "has a very strong environmental record, and she's very proud of it," said her spokeswoman, Claire R. Hassett.