Although next week's Baltimore mayoral primary is now the talk of the town, the Maryland GOP is already looking ahead to the 1998 governor's race against Parris N. Glendening, the Democrat who squeaked into the State House last year.
Ellen R. Sauerbrey, the Baltimore County Republican who lost a bitter fight to Mr. Glendening by 5,993 votes, has scheduled four fund-raisers around the state through Nov. 5 -- an expanded version of her annual Oktoberfest celebration, "Sauerbrey und Sauerkraut."
While Mrs. Sauerbrey is not saying what office she's angling for, the smart money is on another bid for governor.
"Geez, '98's a long way away," Mrs. Sauerbrey said. "I'm not prepared to make any announcements as to what my future plans are, but clearly I have a burning interest in Maryland's direction.
"Whatever I do in the future, I'm going to have to have funding to do it, and it's time to start," she said.
In the meantime, the former House of Delegates minority leader is chairing the presidential campaign in Maryland for Texas Sen. Phil Gramm, staying in touch with her grass-roots organization by pushing her pick in the state primary next March.
The first of the $45-a-ticket fund-raisers ($40 before Sept. 15) for Mrs. Sauerbrey is scheduled Oct. 6 in Parkville. Other events are planned for Frederick, Waldorf and Salisbury.
Sauerbrey volunteers are arranging for 10,000 copies of a "commemorative" booklet -- including her position on issues and biographical information -- to be printed and distributed at the four events, as well as at speaking engagements around the state.
"A lot of the [Sauerbrey] team is getting together because we're looking forward to future elections," said Carol L. Hirschburg, Mrs. Sauerbrey's former press secretary and finance director, who is volunteering for the four events. "The past is the past."
That last comment could be the key to any political success that Mrs. Sauerbrey might find in the future.
She soured some supporters by repeatedly contending that the election was stolen from her by the state's Democratic machine. Her court challenge to Mr. Glendening's win, and investigations by the attorney general's office, state prosecutor's office and the FBI, failed to prove the allegations.
Despite her loss of points in some circles, she still enjoys support across the state and could pose a threat to Mr. Glendening, who won only three of Maryland's 24 jurisdictions in November.
Although he has stumbled in his first months in office and suffers from low popularity ratings, as an incumbent in 1998 he likely will be a tough opponent.
The Glendening organization -- which spent a record $5.3 million last year to elect the governor -- has set a $1 million-a-year fund-raising goal until 1998, when it expects to raise even more.
There is no shortage of potential GOP challengers in the wings, ** including Sen. John A. Cade, the Senate minority leader from Anne Arundel County who is making some gubernatorial rumblings but is believed to be considering a bid for state comptroller.
Other Republicans mentioned with some frequency are Richard
D. Bennett, the former U.S. attorney who lost to J. Joseph Curran Jr. for Maryland attorney general last year, and Del. Robert L. Flanagan, a lawyer from Howard County.
New job for Schaefer aide
Paul E. Schurick, one-time press secretary and chief of staff for former Gov. William Donald Schaefer, is venturing into the private sector.
Mr. Schurick, who stayed in state service until Mr. Schaefer left office in January, is teaming with Stephen D. Kaiser to form Schurick/Kaiser Public Affairs, a Baltimore-based issues-oriented public relations consulting firm.