Although the presidential campaign of Texas Sen. Phil Gramm stumbled badly in Louisiana, the head of his Maryland organization vowed yesterday to keep marching toward the March 5 primary here.
"We're disappointed that it did not go better for Phil Gramm in Louisiana," said Ellen R. Sauerbrey, who has labored diligently in Maryland for Mr. Gramm since last summer. "But this is just the first skirmish in what we hope will be a long war."
Mrs. Sauerbrey, who in 1994 nearly became the state's first Republican governor in three decades, organized early and efficiently for Mr. Gramm in every region of Maryland. But now, after her candidate lost Tuesday's Louisiana caucuses, many
say that Mr.
Gramm's campaign may not last long enough to benefit from her statewide network.
"It's all over for Phil Gramm," said Edward Weissman, a political science professor at Washington College in Kent County. "His loss in Louisiana is the absolute end of his presidential campaign."
Mr. Weissman, a political consultant, has worked for 1st District Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest, who now heads the state presidential campaign of Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole. But Mr. Weissman said he does not support any presidential candidate.
Regardless of whether Mr. Gramm survives until March 5, Mrs. Sauerbrey's elevated status in the state Republican Party will not suffer, party activists said.
Tony Caligiuri, executive director of Mr. Dole's state campaign, said voters are sophisticated enough to know that Mr. Gramm's failings are not Mrs. Sauerbrey's.
Meanwhile, the chairman of Maryland's low-key campaign for Patrick J. Buchanan, the television commentator from Virginia who upset Mr. Gramm in Louisiana, was ecstatic.
"This gives him a great boost going into Iowa and New Hampshire and then into Maryland," said Michael Craig, a Carroll County Republican activist.
Other than supplying a blow to Mr. Gramm's hopes, the Louisiana results probably will have no long-range effect, said Herb Smith, a political science professor at Western Maryland College.
Boycotted by the Republican front-runners, the Louisiana caucuses were, in Mr. Smith's words, "a very modest media boomlet with a half-life of maybe 24 hours."
And Chris West, executive director of the Maryland Republican Party, said: "If the Maryland primary were tomorrow, this might have a significant effect. But the primary's not until March 5, and a whole lot of political developments will take place between now and then.
"I'd say that by the time the Maryland primary rolls around, virtually no one will remember what happened in Louisiana."
No one except perhaps Mr. Gramm. Even the candidate himself, in his Texas drawl, said yesterday that now he must finish in the top three in Iowa.