Maryland Democrats were giving Prince's County Executive Parris N. Glendening a decisive victory in the gubernatorial primary yesterday, while Rep. Helen Delich Bentley and state Del. Ellen R. Sauerbrey were locked in a struggle for the Republican nomination in early returns.
Turnout appeared to be in the range of 40 percent -- on a par with recent statewide elections, said Gene M. Raynor, the state elections board chief. The general election will be held Nov. 8.
Mrs. Sauerbrey, who billed herself as the truest Republican in the race and who called Mrs. Bentley a tool of Gov. William Donald Schaefer, rode into contention on calls for deep tax cuts and tough criminal sanctions.
In the U.S. Senate primary, former Tennessee Sen. Bill Brock was leading the Republican field for the right to battle the three-term incumbent Democrat, Paul S. Sarbanes, who faced only token opposition. Montgomery County developer Ruthann Aron was running second to Mr. Brock, and state Del. C. Ronald Franks of Queenstown on the Eastern Shore, was last.
Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. was turning back challengers Eleanor M. Carey, a former deputy state attorney general, and Patrick J. Smith, a Rockville attorney, in the Democratic primary. Republican Richard D. Bennett, a former U.S. attorney for Maryland, was unopposed for the GOP nomination.
Seeking a 10th term as Maryland's chief tax collector, state Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein was leading James B. Moorhead. The Montgomery County lawyer's negative campaigning barely nicked Mr. Goldstein, 81, who has become an immovable fixture in Maryland politics. The Republicans were nominating Richard Taylor, the GOP national committeeman for Maryland, longtime fund-raiser and Washington lawyer.
In one of the state's two most closely watched congressional races, Democrats were expected to choose Del. Gerry L. Brewster to oppose Republican Del. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. in the 2nd District.
In the 6th, first-term incumbent Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett was leading in the Republican primary, while the Democrats in the Western and Central Maryland district were choosing between former state Del. Paul D. Muldowney, Stephen Crawford, Galen R. Clagett and Neil S. Dhillon.
In area races for county executive, C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger III was among the Baltimore County Democrats vying to face incumbent Roger B. Hayden.
In Anne Arundel County, Robert Agee, H. Erle Schafer, Larry E. Walker and Theodore Sophocleus were competing to face Republican John Gary, who was unopposed.
In Howard County, Sue-Ellen Hantman was running against Susan B. Gray for the Democratic nomination to face incumbent Republican Charles I. Ecker, who was unopposed.
In the race for the gubernatorial nomination, Democrats were choosing among four candidates in their determination to retain the post they have held since Republican Spiro T. Agnew left the office in 1968 to become vice president. Republicans have not made a strong race for the office since Mr. Agnew's 1966 victory.
Mr. Glendening's opponents battled a number of problems while his financial and organizational strength helped him build momentum throughout the primary election. Lt. Gov. Melvin A. "Mickey" Steinberg, who had been viewed as the front-runner as recently as February, quickly lost that status. The other contenders, Montgomery County state Sen. Mary H. Boergers and Baltimore Sen. American Joe Miedusiewski, ran creditable campaigns but were emerging with nothing more than honorable mention.
The polls opened for Mr. Glendening yesterday with the prospect of a clear victory in a race which, a year ago, had promised to be much closer.
The Prince George's executive carried endorsements from major newspapers and from an array of unions. His affiliation with the Maryland Association of Counties, which he served in various posts, also appeared to aid his organization. The $3.2 million he raised was a historic high for a Maryland primary, easily outpacing his rivals.
In the Senate races, Mr. Sarbanes ran television advertisements calmly describing his Maryland roots, while his would-be Republican opponents waged a nasty battle for their party's nomination.
Attorney General Curran held a healthy lead over Mrs. Carey throughout the pre-primary polls. She lost to him by a narrow margin eight years ago. This time, though, Mr. Curran was an incumbent with an unusually low "negative" standing among voters, polls show.
In the 2nd District, a new generation may move into office as voters were expected to choose this fall between Mr. Brewster, the Democrat, and Mr. Ehrlich, the Republican. There are many similarities between the two men who would succeed the 70-year-old incumbent, Mrs. Bentley. Both are 35, both are graduates of the Gilman School and Princeton University, both are lawyers, and both are members of the House of Delegates.
Mr. Ehrlich would move toward the general election with the hope that blue-collar Democrats will be at ease with his distinctly conservative views. Mr. Brewster, the son of former U.S. Sen. Daniel B. Brewster, has set forth a number of classic conservative positions as well.
In the 6th District, Mr. Muldowney asked voters to choose his brand of straight-talking conservatism over the well-financed Mr. Dhillon, whose campaign was hampered by disclosures that he had a spotty voting record and had been convicted of assault.
Mr. Bartlett, a conservative incumbent, provoked several controversies during his first two-year term, drawing a number of opponents who sensed an early opportunity to unseat him.
Spirited local and statewide races and the continuing discontent with government helped to keep the turnout at or above recent primary percentages, according to Mr. Raynor, chief of the State Administrative Board of Election Laws. He had predicted a 40 percent turnout -- slightly lower than the 42 percent in the statewide primary of 1990.
Though primary races involved large numbers of relatively unknown contenders, many of these races were well-financed, sending volumes of get-out-the-vote literature through the mails and door to door.
Voters were obliged to pay even more attention to this year's races because many were in different General Assembly districts redrawn to give roughly the same number of residents after the 1990 census.
Democrats are coming off a presidential election in 1992 in which they re-asserted their organizational power in Maryland. They produced the second largest plurality of any state for President Clinton.
That renewed strength could be seen yesterday in Mr. Glendening's showing. His campaign manager, Emily Smith, ran Mr. Clinton's Maryland campaign in 1992.