1998 campaign is taking shape Candidates: Gubernatorial hopefuls hiring, firing, firming up positions and seeking endorsements as race begins to heat up.; CAMPAIGN 1998


LITTLE BY LITTLE, Maryland's 1998 gubernatorial campaign takes shape as the candidates hire and fire staff, scrabble after more endorsements and settle in with positions on a few issues.

Developments are demonstrating the truth of the old saw about 24 hours being a lifetime in politics.

After a shaky shakedown cruise, Gov. Parris N. Glendening, the Democratic incumbent, replaced his campaign manager, Tim Phillips, while the Republican front-runner, Ellen R. Sauerbrey, seems to be hanging on to hers.

Only a few months ago, the purging and consolidating appeared to be going the other way, with the savvy and experienced Phillips looking far more secure than Sauerbrey's David Albert, who had offended enough Republican volunteers to endanger his post. For the moment, though, Albert is surviving and Phillips is effectively out.

As a high-level aide departs, however, Glendening might be welcoming more endorsers. Aides to Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan say he will throw in with the governor in a week or two.

Asked about his intentions yesterday, Duncan put off any comment while he heard a few endorsements -- of him.

"Montgomery County is the place to be if you want to be part of the next century," Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski told a crowd of well-wishers in Rockville. Duncan was announcing his run for a second four-year term. He listened as Democratic politicians lauded him as the man who has given the county statewide clout.

He was asked, of course, if he would endorse the man who hopes to be governor into the next century. Duncan would only grin. But aides say their boss will announce his support for Glendening in "the next couple of weeks."

Former Gov. William Donald Schaefer will hold a breakfast for business people in support of Glendening within the next few weeks. This event will be at least the third public outing at which Schaefer has spoken well of his successor.

Glendening prepares to run against at least two "evils" -- gambling and tobacco. One of his primary opponents, Eileen M. Rehrmann, the Harford County executive, favors the introduction slot machines at Maryland racetracks -- as a rescue mission for Maryland racing and to prevent the flow of gambling revenue into Delaware and West Virginia, both of which offer trackside slots.

Glendening adamantly opposes slots. He does favor a plan to put a $1.50 tax on a pack of cigarettes -- a plan Rehrmann is supporting as well. The anti-smoking forces, led by organizer Vinnie DeMarco, say backing the tax increase plays well with voters who are angry at tobacco companies for pursuing new customers among young people.

At the same time, some gambling opponents see the cigarette tax revenue as a replacement for the money slots would bring.

The pro-slots forces, led most visibly by Rehrmann, believe that Marylanders are not opposed to putting slot machines at racetracks, having determined that gambling is under way in those venues.

Ecker's gubernatorial effort adds new faces, a new name

Howard County Executive Charles I. Ecker's campaign for the GOP gubernatorial nomination announced two new staff appointments -- and a new name -- yesterday.

Jill Homan, 23, joins the campaign as communications director, and Joe Solomon, 21, a political science and marketing major at the University of Maryland, College Park will become field director. It's the first campaign for both.

The campaign also announced that its effort to win the GOP primary is now known as "Maryland's Campaign for Governor."

Ecker, meanwhile, has taken himself out of the running for lieutenant governor on Sauerbrey's ticket -- irrevocably, according to some sources.

Pub Date: 6/02/98

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