- The Washington Times - Monday, September 9, 2002

The Democratic candidates for Prince George's County executive went to where the voters were yesterday, with all five of the candidates meeting with churchgoers in hopes of gaining a few more converts before tomorrow's primary.
"At this point, the campaign is over," said Wayne Clarke, adviser to the Rev. C. Anthony Muse, 44. "It now is a matter of reminding people to get to the polls."
Like the others, State's Attorney Jack B. Johnson, 53, went to churches all over the county, said his publicist, Derrick Green. Mr. Johnson is considered to be the front-runner in the election.
"He'll be talking to voters all day," Mr. Green said.
At 6 p.m., he said, Mr. Johnson went to campaign headquarters in Suitland to meet with poll workers and volunteers about their roles tomorrow.
Mr. Johnson has been considered the leading contender because he is the only one of the five to have won a countywide election in 1994 and 1998.
The candidates agree that the three main issues are poorly performing public schools, the county's much criticized police and the economy. Each proposes slightly different solutions.
The only white candidate, M. H. Jim Estepp, 61, a County Council member, has emphasized his previous countywide job assignments as fire chief and as the county's first director of public safety.
Political speculators believe Mr. Estepp could win the primary election if the four black candidates split the black vote about 60 percent of the county population.
Mr. Estepp went to services as usual at Riverdale Baptist Church and then went to other churches and a Greek festival before going to a candidates' forum at Reid Temple African Methodist Episcopal in Riverdale, said coordinator Jim Inzeo.
Major F. Riddick, 52, another former county official, also attended the forum. He was appointed to county posts by Gov. Parris N. Glendening when Mr. Glendening was county executive.
Mr. Riddick was executive director of the housing authority, budget director, chief administrative officer and chief of staff for the governor.
Mr. Riddick arose at 7 a.m. and attended services as usual at Ebenezer AME Church in Fort Washington before circulating to other churches en route to the forum, said publicist Shawnta Walcott.
Maryland Delegate Rushern L. Baker III, 44, avoided "politicking at the pulpit," said coordinator Ramon Korionoff, "but it was all right after services to talk with parishioners."
His agenda had the least church contacts. Instead, Mr. Baker briefed about 250 unpaid poll workers and volunteers and handed out "bags of goodies," campaign literature, for distribution to undecided voters near the polls.
After the forum, Mr. Baker planned to spend a couple of hours at a rally and barbecue in Bowie, Mr. Korionoff said.
Mr. Muse, the youngest candidate, bypassed preaching at the church he founded two years ago, Ark of Safety Christian Church, to meet parishioners of other churches and remind them of the elections tomorrow, Mr. Clarke said.
His church has 4,000 members, who are expected to vote for him.
"He's doing all he can," Mr. Clarke said, adding that yesterday's campaigning would end at dusk.

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