- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 7, 2000

Campaign workers yesterday scurried about their voting precincts to prepare for today's Super Tuesday primary in Maryland, the first to allow independents to vote in the Republican primary.

"We're just scrambling," said Maryland Delegate Donald E. Murphy, a co-chairman of Sen. John McCain's campaign in the state.

"It's like the night before a big trip we're packing," said Mr. Murphy, Baltimore County Republican. "You're never prepared."

Especially since, months ago, many Republicans and Democrats believed Texas Gov. George W. Bush was unbeatable.

But like Mr. McCain, Arizona Republican, Mr. Murphy is used to being the underdog. In a state where Democratic voters outnumber Republican voters 2-to-1, Mr. Murphy is also one of three McCain backers in the General Assembly.

Of the other 46 Republican legislators, all of the senators and most of the delegates have declared support for Mr. Bush.

Up with the sun yesterday to wave signs near the Baltimore Beltway, Mr. Murphy had made his way to Charlestown Senior Center in Catonsville by 9 a.m.

There, his McCain pitch followed the double-team effort of Gov. Parris N. Glendening and Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, both Democrats stumping for Vice President Al Gore.

Mr. Murphy said he is keeping his absentee ballot handy in case his duties as a legislator and campaigner keep him from voting.

With so much of the Maryland Republican establishment behind Mr. Bush, it wasn't hard for that operation to find a staging area for its efforts.

The front of Mary Kane's campaign headquarters on Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda was transformed into what looked like a miniature lumberyard, what with all the wooden stakes for campaign signs.

Mrs. Kane had volunteered to head Mr. Bush's campaign in Montgomery County before she knew she had become a candidate herself.

Just weeks ago, she entered the race for the Montgomery County Council seat Betty Ann Krahnke, a Republican, is vacating because of illness.

Three paces from the desk where Jim Burton directs Mrs. Kane's run, Mr. Bush's deputy national campaign manager, Marc Lampkin, was busy lining up pieces and players for an intensive get-out-the-vote effort. Mr. Lampkin said the manila envelopes strewn across a conference room table were destined for poll watchers.

Those watchers will be listening at many polls as voters identify themselves to get a ballot. Using a list of likely or committed Bush voters, the watchers will strike off the names they hear and relay to a phone bank the remaining names, who will probably get a call today urging them to go to the polls.

Democrat Roger Berliner also jumped in the race to fill Mrs. Krahnke's seat, leaving him less time to spend as co-chairman of former Sen. Bill Bradley's campaign there.

Mr. Bradley, a Democrat, made two rare Maryland stump stops in Bethesda and Baltimore Sunday.

Meanwhile, a few scattered Alan Keyes signs at roadsides have been the strongest evidence of the Darnestown resident and former ambassador's Republican campaign in his own back yard.

McCain supporters on one Bethesda street corner said they weren't letting any opportunity get by. Some even crossed the Potomac to retrieve yard signs used for Virginia's primary last week and replanted them in Maryland, where they could still do some good.

"This is truly grass-roots," declared Judith Keller, a Texas Republican who said she would be voting absentee for Mr. McCain.

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