Less than four months before the Democratic primary, Gov. Parris N. Glendening has fired his campaign manager after a contentious run-in over the day-to-day handling of his re-election effort.
In the first shake-up of his campaign, Glendening ousted Tim Phillips on Tuesday and announced yesterday that he was hiring Karen White, an experienced operative now running the Idaho Democratic Party.
Sources familiar with the situation said the governor and some of his closest advisers, including his wife, Frances Hughes Glendening, had clashed with Phillips in recent days, questioning some of his day-to-day campaign decisions.
The conflicts, the sources said, were not over big-picture strategy but rather about routine campaign matters.
Phillips, in turn, bristled at the hands-on oversight and urged the governor to let him run the campaign or replace him, sources said.
Phillips, 47, has directed the Glendening re-election effort since July. He will continue to be paid by the campaign as a strategic consultant, according to Peter Hamm, a spokesman for Glendening.
"As we enter the next phase of the campaign, it was important to add someone with Karen White's grass-roots organizing and nuts-and-bolts management experience," Hamm said.
Phillips said his departure as manager was essentially a mutual decision.
"I think we both thought that as we got into sort of the execution phase of this thing, there might be a better way to handle it," Phillips said. "It's not my favorite thing to do, the nuts-and-bolts, detail-oriented stuff."
Phillips declined to discuss any problems he might have had with Glendening.
The governor, who won the 1994 election with a victory margin of fewer than 6,000 votes, faces two well-financed Democrats in the September primary. If he survives, he would likely have a rematch with Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey.
White is expected to begin in two weeks. In the meantime, Hamm said he and deputy campaign manager Jennifer Crawford will coordinate the campaign effort.
White, 32, has run a handful of statewide races, including the successful 1994 re-election effort of Colorado Gov. Roy Romer. In 1996, she directed the Idaho campaign of U.S. Senate candidate Walt Minnick, who was trounced by Sen. Larry E. Craig in that heavily Republican state.
"I'm joining an excellent organization basically as a day-to-day manager," White said.
Predictably, Glendening's opponents seized on the shake-up as sign of disarray.
"It certainly indicates they have problems in their campaign," said George F. Harrison, a spokesman for Democratic candidate Eileen M. Rehrmann, the Harford County executive.
"I think they see the shadow behind them," he said.
Phillips, an affable veteran of several campaigns around the country, had a creative, and sometimes caustic, verbal style that impressed many Maryland political observers.
But he also has been criticized by some Glendening supporters, including elected officials, who claimed that he was shutting them out of the campaign effort, sources said.
"There were people who said, 'He's not responsive to me,' " said one Glendening adviser. "He wasn't stroking people and making them feel like they're the center of the universe."
Pub Date: 5/28/98