- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 8, 2002

As if Maryland Democratic politicians didn't have enough to worry about, with Senate President Mike Miller's ethical problems, a redistricting nightmare and Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend's faltering gubernatorial campaign, they now have an even bigger problem: the increasingly bitter feud between Comptroller and ex-Gov. William Donald Schaefer and current Gov. Parris Glendening. With the primary just two days away, the Schaefer-Glendening feud has become the political talk of the state.
This cuts both ways for Mrs. Townsend. The good news is that, at least for now, it deflects attention from the myriad problems plaguing her campaign everything from the federal probe into the possible misuse of tax dollars on the part of the state crime-control office Mrs. Townsend oversaw to her plummeting poll numbers. For now, the feud is also deflecting attention from KKT's newest juvenile justice-related problem: the announcement that the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating conditions at state juvenile facilities in order to decide whether the state has violated the civil rights of young criminals.
The bad news, and there's plenty, is that the longstanding political infighting between two of Mrs. Townsend's closest political allies, Messrs. Schaefer and Glendening, has become downright vitriolic so ugly, in fact, that Mrs. Townsend had no choice but to publicly criticize Mr. Glendening, her political mentor.
Using unspent campaign funds, Mr. Glendening is running ads on behalf of Secretary of State John Willis, a Glendening protege who is challenging Mr. Schaefer who is seeking re-election as comptroller in Tuesday's Democratic Primary. Last week, Maryland radio stations began airing a Glendening-financed commercial which suggests that Schaefer has been disparaging women and minorities. The "evidence?" Mr. Schaefer, 80, has referred to women as "little girls" and blacks as "afros." One prominent black legislator, Del. Howard Rawlings of Baltimore, "termed the anti-Schaefer ad "a new low in politics." Mrs. Townsend said the ad was "wrong" and "didn't depict the William Donald Schaefer I know."
Mr. Glendening, who is also running ads accusing Mr. Schaefer of being "anti-environment," remains defiant. In fact, Mrs. Townsend reportedly asked Mr. Glendening to stop the Schaefer-bashing. Mr. Glendening's response was to unveil a new commercial attacking Mr. Schaefer. This is hardly the kind of thing that will help Mrs. Townsend's handlers and campaign consultants as they desperately seek to spin the notion that she's a "leader."
Meanwhile, Mr. Glendening, despite twice being elected governor, is on the verge of becoming politically radioactive. "A lot of politicians are not going to want to be seen alongside him during the campaign. The negative ads he is running against Schaefer are not only horrendous, they are ill-advised. They will do nothing to help Willis," University of Maryland political analyst Paul S. Herrnson said.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Townsend almost never mentions Mr. Glendening on the campaign trail, even as she attempts to claim credit for his administration's "accomplishments" (not including the juvenile justice system). As this newspaper has noted, the Baltimore Sun has, on occasion, gone to mind-boggling lengths to portray Mrs. Townsend's campaign in a favorable light; just a few weeks ago, as her campaign was beginning to fall apart, the Sun ran an "analysis" piece speculating on her chances to be selected to run for vice president. But on Friday, the Sun noted, without directly saying so, that Mr. Glendening has become something of an embarrassment that KKT and her fellow Democrats don't really know how to handle.
"In the past year, he divorced his wife of 25 years, married a deputy chief of staff 24 years his junior and had a baby," the Sun noted. "He tried to persuade his appointees to the university system's Board of Regents to name him chancellor, a $375,000-a-year job, but had to renounce his candidacy amid criticism that it was unethical. He drew a legislative redistricting map to help friends and punish enemies that was tossed out as unconstitutional by the Court of Appeals. And he is leaving the state with an estimated shortfall of $1 billion for the 2004 fiscal year." A recent Sun poll showed Mrs. Townsend's unfavorable ratings rising in step with Mr. Glendening's.
As Marylanders head to the polls for Tuesday's primaries, there's just no escaping the reality that Mrs. Townsend and the Democrats are in real trouble. We may be witnessing the beginning of the end of one-party rule in Maryland.

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