By Len Lazarick
One of the more meaningful endorsements in the Republican campaign for governor got lost in the shuffle last week.
Former House of Delegates Minority Leader Ellen Sauerbrey, almost elected governor in 1994, and her then-archrival, former U.S. Rep. Helen Delich Bentley, along with former Baltimore County Executive Roger Hayden, enthusiastically endorsed Harford County Executive David Craig for governor and his running mate Del. Jeannie Haddaway on Wednesday.
The campaign itself seemed largely at fault, since there was little advanced warning that the grand dames of the Grand Old Party in Maryland were going to set aside past differences and boost someone they both described as an old friend and the most experienced candidate in the race.
The campaign then took two days to put out a press release, at least a day after they put the announcement up on Facebook and the campaign website.
Sauerbrey: Craig ‘is the best qualified’
“David is the best qualified in either party to be governor,” Sauerbrey told MarylandReporter.com. She has been advising the Craig campaign. “The best indication for what you’re going to do in the future is what you’ve done in the past.”
“He was one of the best people in our caucus,” when he served in the House of Delegates, Sauerbrey said. Craig, former mayor of Havre de Grace, later served in the Senate, and has been the Harford County executive for 10 years.
Bentley concurred. “David always supported me in whatever I did, and he’s been a friend of mine for over 35 years,” said the former congresswoman,who turned 90 last year.
“I think he is by far the better administrator,” said Bentley. “He is by far, the most competent of the Republicans, the most experienced and the most dedicated.”
Bentley lost to Sauerbrey in the 1994 primary, giving up a fairly safe seat in Congress, which was taken by Bob Ehrlich on his path upward to governor.
Sauerbrey said, “David has been the following the ’94 Sauerbrey campaign plan,” with heavy grass roots efforts. The other leading candidate, former Ehrlich appointments secretary Larry Hogan, “clearly has a different strategy,” relying on media and advertising to advance his message, while he skips candidate forums and other traditional Republican venues.
“All four candidates are friends,” Sauerbrey said, referring to Craig, Hogan, Del. Ron George and businessman Charles Lollar, the other two Republicans running for governor.
Bentley takes swing at Hogan
Sauerbrey refused to critique the other candidates, but the normally pugnacious Bentley showed no such reluctance, criticizing Hogan’s role as patronage chief for Gov. Bob Ehrlich, vetting candidates for thousands of positions in state agencies, boards and commissions.
“I thought Larry Hogan was one of the worst secretary of appointments ever,” Bentley said. “The people they sent to the port were just abysmal,” referring to Ehrlich appointees to run the state-managed Port of Baltimore, which Ehrlich named in Bentley’s honor. As a reporter for the Baltimore Sun, head of the Federal Maritime Commission, member of Congress and now as a consultant, Bentley has been a long-time champion of the port and its place in international trade and the Maryland economy.
Bentley said if Hogan and his running mate Boyd Rutherford, who headed the Department of General Services under Ehrlich, were so good, she wondered why Ehrlich didn’t get reelected.
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