- The Washington Times - Friday, November 8, 2002

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend said yesterday she lost the governor's race because voters saw her as a key figure in the Glendening administration, not as an agent of change.

"The people in Maryland wanted change," Mrs. Townsend, the lieutenant governor, said before hiking with her family along the Baltimore and Annapolis Trail. "I am the agent of change, but it was hard to get across that message."

Her comments about working for Gov. Parris N. Glendening were more diplomatic than those of her boss, who told The Washington Post that she ran the worst campaign in the country. Mrs. Townsend has declined to respond to the criticism.

Marylanders became increasingly unhappy with Mr. Glendening's action during his eight years in Annapolis, including divorcing his wife to marry a young staffer, declining to support the long-sought Intercounty Connector and overseeing fiscal mismanagement that resulted in a $1.7 billion budget deficit.

"Every time she mentioned him, she would go down in the polls," said Comptroller William Donald Schaefer, a Democrat but strong critic of Mr. Glendening.

Mr. Glendening made few public appearances in attempts to help Mrs. Townsend, including a campaign party in September when she started to slip in the polls. During her concession speech Tuesday night, Mrs. Townsend thanked Mr. Glendening for giving her the opportunity to become a public servant.

Mrs. Townsend, who looked relaxed and cheerful yesterday next to her husband, David, and daughters Kate and Maeve, denied observers' remarks that she had appeared relieved during her concession speech.

She also left open the possibility of another political run.

"I am not going to rule out running for elected office in the future," Mrs. Townsend said. "I always thought I was here to make a difference."

Mrs. Townsend made an unsuccessful run for Congress in 1986.

With the Kennedy name and ample campaign money, Mrs. Townsend had significant advantages over Tuesday night's winner, Republican U.S. Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. She also is a Democrat in a state that outnumbers Republicans 2-to-1.

Mr. Ehrlich spent yesterday at his Towson office working and conducting call-in radio interviews. He plans to leave for Ocean City tomorrow to relax and play golf, said spokeswoman Shareese N. DeLeaver.

"He is a hometown boy," she said. "He needs nothing more extravagant than the golf course."

Mr. Ehrlich is scheduled to return Monday to announce more members of his transition team.

The reasons Mrs. Townsend lost to Mr. Ehrlich went far beyond her being Mr. Glendening's second-in-command, critics said.

She had an awkward public-speaking style and an inability to communicate with voters, they said. In the end, stump appearances by powerful Democrats such as former President Bill Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore could not help her, they said.

Mrs. Townsend defended her decision to choose as running mate Adm. Charles Larson, a white Republican who switched to the Democratic Party just before the election race. Many powerful black Democrats in the state were angered by the decision and initially distanced themselves from her.

Mrs. Townsend said she was looking forward to taking a vacation and traveling.

Daughter Maeve, who was often on the campaign tour, said she looked forward to spending more quiet time with her mother.

"It is good to have my mom back," she said.

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