CHICAGO -- The honor of delivering one last call to arms fell to Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, who over the past week was perhaps the least visible of the senior officials in Maryland's Democratic convention delegation.
With former Rep. Kweisi Mfume delivering a speech last night in his new role as head of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, one more Marylander was stepping onto the convention stage.
Before Mfume came Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, who spoke Wednesday night; Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, who appeared Tuesday night; Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, who spoke Monday; and Gov. Parris N. Glendening, who announced the state's votes for the renomination of President Clinton.
Everyone, it seemed, had a speaking part but Sarbanes. Just the way the self-effacing Senate veteran likes it.
He has been mentioned by other speakers who reminded the assembled faithful that if Democrats gain control of the Senate, he would become chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, replacing New York Republican Alfonse M. D'Amato.
And as he appears at various party forums, Sarbanes is hailed for his work as the senior Democrat on the D'Amato's Whitewater Committee, where the Maryland senator was the leading defender of the president and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.
His turn came yesterday, if on a smaller stage. At the final caucus of the state's delegates, Sarbanes was introduced by former Gov. Harry R. Hughes as a Democrat who "has never wavered from the principles of this party."
No one who heard him speak before the Marylanders yesterday could have doubted that assessment as Sarbanes displayed the passion he seems to haul out for campaigns -- his own or those of his Democratic allies.
This election, he said, is crucial to the future of the nation as it heads for the year 2000.
"We don't want this country to turn into a Third World nation with a thin group of wealthy at the top and the rest of us struggling to exist," he said.
The Republicans "were never there when they were needed to open the society," he said, and they cannot be trusted to care for Democratic programs like Medicare, Medicaid, aid for education and environmental protections.
He urged his colleagues to hit the streets of Maryland running hard "to send the ideologues packing for good."
Pub Date: 8/30/96