- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 25, 2002

Maryland Democrats profess to be shocked by the behavior of political consultant Julius Henson, who on Friday, in his official first day on the job as a consultant working to turn out black voters in Prince George's County for Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, denounced Republican gubernatorial nominee Robert Ehrlich as "a Nazi" and "a bad man."
For obvious reasons, this type of slur, made in an interview with The Washington Post, doesn't sit well with many Marylanders in particular, the Jewish community, a longtime bastion of support for Democratic candidates seeking statewide office. So, party officials spent the weekend denouncing Mr. Henson's remarks. Mr. Henson, who was heavily recruited by his longstanding political ally, Rep. Al Wynn, to work for Mrs. Townsend's campaign, remained silent for several days.
Either Mr. Henson or campaign officials have been lying about the consultant's relationship with the state party. Since Friday, campaign officials have denied that he had been officially hired. Mr. Henson, by contrast, said he began work Sept. 11, the day Democratic state campaign director Karen White hired him and he signed an employment contract that would pay him $30,000 for 50 days work.
On Monday, however, in yet another vivid demonstration of the disarray and just plain rotten luck that has characterized the Townsend campaign, Mr. Henson tried to set the record straight, so to speak. Unfortunately for the Democrats, he happened to pick the very day that Mrs. Townsend and the Prince George's party chose to stage in Largo: an opportunity for Mrs. Townsend to meet and make amends with Mr. Wynn and other black county politicians, who criticized her for choosing a white running mate, Adm. Charles Larson.
Mr. Henson claimed that, even as Townsend campaign officials sought to distance themselves from him, Mrs. White, the Glendening 1998 veteran brought in to run the state party campaign this year, told him that the party wanted him to work undercover, and that it would find a way to pay him. Mr. Henson depicted himself as the victim of shabby treatment on the part of Mrs. Townsend. "I thought the candidate herself going on TV was beyond the pale," Mr. Henson said. "She should have said, 'I understand [Mr. Hensons] frustration… . Let's talk about all the vicious things [Mr. Ehrlich] has done in Congress.'"
Even as Mrs. Townsend's staff was stating publicly that the campaign would have nothing to do with Mr. Henson, Mr. Wynn indicated he would attempt to persuade Mrs. Townsend to rethink her decision to dump the consultant. And, in fairness, whatever one thinks of the venom Mr. Henson is spewing these days, it isn't all that different in substance from what the Democrats successfully did to re-elect Parris Glendening as governor and Mrs. Townsend as lieutenant governor four years ago.
In 1998, polls did not show Mr. Glendening pulling ahead of Republican Ellen Sauerbrey (with his gains coming among women and blacks) until the Democrats ran an ugly series of attack ads shortly before the election attacking her positions on abortion and civil rights. Mrs. Sauerbrey has said that the Democrats' use of the race card was the key factor in helping Mr. Glendening pull ahead to win.
The Glendening ads castigated Mrs. Sauerbrey, a member of the Maryland House of Delegates, for opposing the Civil Rights Act of 1992; the legislation dealt with an array of issues, including race. But the issue that killed the legislation was a provision that would have made it possible to levy fines against violators without access to jury trials. Among the many Democrats voting no was Richard Dixon, a black delegate from Carroll County. "The negative ads scared blacks and women senseless David Duke would have been proud," political commentator Blair Lee IV, a liberal Montgomery County Democrat and political commentator, said.
In sum, Mr. Henson is precisely the man for a nasty job: employing the race card and other forms of divisive demagoguery to scare Marylanders into voting for Mr. Glendening's protege, Mrs. Townsend.


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