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Reaction to Schaefer: Dismay, Humor

The two Democratic candidates for governor expressed dismay Thursday with Comptroller William Donald Schaefer for ogling a 24-year-old woman in a public meeting Wednesday, aides said.

Even so, Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan has no plans to remove a picture featured prominently on his Web site that shows Duncan and Schaefer joining hands at an endorsement event, a campaign aide said.

Duncan "believes the comments and behavior were inappropriate," said spokesman David Weaver.

Jonathan Epstein, campaign manager for Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, said his boss was also troubled by the episode, in which Schaefer asked the woman, an aide to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) to "walk again" out of the room so he could watch.

"It was totally unacceptable behavior that no one should have to endure in the work place," Epstein said.

Other leading Democrats also panned Schaefer's behavior yesterday, though some suggested they were not surprise.

"It was obviously a mistake, but the only people who would be shocked by the incident would be people who don't know William Donald Schaefer," said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller (D-Calvert.) "He's an attention-getter, and sometimes he doesn't realize it offends people."

Asked if Schaefer is a candidate Democrats should be embracing, Miller said: "You have to consider the totality of the candidate. It's hard to overlook his record of achievement in the past."

The Associated Press reported that the incident sparked plenty of jokes in and around the State House.

At a news conference Thursday on an increase in Maryland's minimum wage, a Democratic senator waved Montgomery Del. Peter Franchot, who is running against Schaefer in the Democratic primary, over to the other side of the room. As Franchot arrived, he leaned toward the male senator, expecting to talk, but the senator said, "Now, walk again!" to laughter from Franchot and other Democrats.

Still, Franchot said he does not plan to make the episode a campaign issue.

Schaefer, who scolded the press Wednesday for criticizing him, wasn't talking Thursday.

"We're done talking about it," said spokesman Michael Golden.

John Wagner

By Phyllis Jordan  |  February 16, 2006; 6:44 PM ET
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Has Schaefer apologized publicly about this yet? All I remember is him saying that HE'S the one who is offended.

I know a lot of women who have worked their lives so that they aren't demeaned and objectified the way Schaefer did to a 24 yr-old staffer this week. Schaefer, at the least, owes an apology to them.

Posted by: John | February 17, 2006 3:25 AM | Report abuse

“My perspective is very simply this, there’s a way to communicate or elicit a response from any audience without having to go into the gutter, without having to conjure up images of hatred or dissension that divide people.” – Michael Steele on FOX News, Hannity and Colmes, 18 January 2006, regarding Sen. Clinton referring to Republican leadership running the House of Representatives like a “plantation.” The video is accessible on the Steele campaign homepage.

"Look, you of all folks know what happens when people decide they want to experiment on human beings, when they want to take your life and use it as a tool. I know that as well from my community and our experience with slavery." Michael Steele, comments to the Baltimore Jewish Council regarding stem cell research on 9 February 2006

I can't tell if this is another flip-flop, if he was trying to pander to the conservative Fox news, or if he was simply being a hypocrite. Either way, it's clear that he holds himself to one standard and everyone else to a far different one.

Posted by: John | February 17, 2006 5:11 AM | Report abuse

"It was obviously a mistake, but the only people who would be shocked by the incident would be people who don't know William Donald Schaefer," said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller (D-Calvert.) "He's an attention-getter, and sometimes he doesn't realize it offends people."

The apologists for Schaefer who say its just his personality should know better. I have an elderly relative who is very bigoted against blacks. The rest of the family apologises for him saying that it was the way he was raised. I am the only one who confronts him and tells he must stop demeaning black people. And it works.

I would recommend to Thomas V. Mike Miller (D-Calvert) to stop apologising for Schaefer and stand up to his sophomoric behavior. Its attitudes like Miller's that enable Schaefer to act the way he does and embarass the state and the democratic party.

Posted by: Sully | February 17, 2006 9:43 AM | Report abuse

There was an interesting story on NPR yesterday afternoon - I was listening to WAMU, so maybe it was just a story on there - that was about how older people turn into different people, saying things they never would have said in their younger days. People saying things like "My grandfather would have never said that before..."

I believe this is true, BUT it's no excuse for an elected official. Not to be flippant or disrespectful in any way, but if age is affecting Schaefer in such ways, I really have to wonder - first, how effective is he today at his job, and second, is this really going to be acceptable just because he's 84?

Personally, I don't think it's acceptable in the least.

Posted by: corbett | February 17, 2006 10:07 AM | Report abuse

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