- The Washington Times - Friday, June 7, 2002

Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. will need to draw Democrats to win the governor's race in Maryland, but Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend appears to have fared better so far in garnering support from Republicans.

In the battle for crossover endorsements, Mrs. Townsend has won the backing of two county Republican officials, and the son of the late Republican Gov. Theodore McKeldin has started Republicans for Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, according to Townsend campaign spokeswoman Kate Philips.

The only endorsement by a Democrat announced by the Ehrlich campaign is that of state Sen. Clarence M. Mitchell IV, who has denounced the way ruling Democrats have treated his Baltimore district and minorities in redrawing the state legislative map.

"There are a lot forthcoming who will endorse him including Democrats but we can't talk about them yet," said Ehrlich campaign spokeswoman Shareese DeLeaver.

"Bob's reaching out in a lot of areas where he's not even expected," she said.

A growing number of "Democrats for Ehrlich" bumper stickers are showing up on cars around Maryland where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2 to 1, said Miss DeLeaver, one of several registered Democrats hired for key jobs in the Ehrlich campaign.

"A lot of folks are open to the option right now, [but] a lot of folks are waiting until after the primary," she said.

Although Mr. Ehrlich and Mrs. Townsend are considered clear favorites for their parties' nominations, the hardest-fought and hardest-to-win campaign endorsements typically come after the primary, which will be held Sept. 10.

Such commitments can help candidates reach just the sort of swing voters a centrist Republican like Mr. Ehrlich needs to beat Mrs. Townsend, daughter of the late Robert F. Kennedy. Her name recognition has only been aided by national magazine articles about potential female presidential candidates, which often mention Mrs. Townsend and run her photo.

Mr. Ehrlich, who has had to draw crossover votes in Maryland's heavily Democratic 2nd Congressional District to win that seat four times, is keeping his promise to cede no vote, Miss DeLeaver said.

She said he is courting local police and firefighters' groups, and black leaders and organizations. He also is in touch with the Maryland Classified Employees Association and former Democratic Lt. Gov. Melvin Steinberg, both of whom endorsed Republican gubernatorial nominee Ellen R. Sauerbrey in 1998.

Miss DeLeaver said the McKeldin endorsement was news to the Ehrlich campaign, but that "there's no beef we have with Ted McKeldin."

Mr. Ehrlich has been endorsed by all Republicans in the Maryland legislature and the other three Republicans in the House of Representatives.

Mrs. Townsend has been endorsed by Maryland's two Democratic U.S. senators, all four Maryland Democrats in the House of Representatives, several prominent Democratic county executives, Republican Charles County Sheriff Fred Davis and Republican Wicomico County Council President L. Russell Molnar, Miss Philips said.

About 75 percent of Democrats in the state Senate and 85 percent of Democrats in the state House of Delegates have endorsed her, Miss Philips said.

But the Townsend campaign may have spoken too soon in counting Comptroller William Donald Schaefer among those lending their names to her campaign.

On Wednesday, the notoriously independent and unpredictable Mr. Schaefer declined to say when or if he would endorse Mrs. Townsend.

The former governor, a Democrat, told The Washington Times he is "awful close" and praised her running of the three-member Board of Public Works meeting that morning in place of his foe, Gov. Parris N. Glendening, who is on vacation.

But Mr. Schaefer who broke party ranks before to endorse former President George H.W. Bush and his friend, former Rep. Helen Bentley also said he likes Mr. Ehrlich and that he would never say anything against him or "tell anyone not to vote for him."

Miss Philips said Mr. Schaefer "told us he's going to be supporting the lieutenant governor."


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