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Ganging Up on Schaefer

Political pundits have noted that Comptroller William Donald Schaefer is rapidly alienating many of the Democratic party's core constituencies.

For proof ot that one need look no further than yesterday's unique news conference where leaders of the Asian, Latin, black and women's groups came together to tell the veteran Democrat it is "time to go."

What could be bad news for Schaefer is that leaders of these groups are mobilitizing a voter registration drive to get their members out to the polls for the Sept. 12 primary The National Capital Immigrant Coalition has identified more than 277,000 black, Latino and Asian residents who are eligible to vote but have not yet registered.

The groups gathered in Wheaton yesterday were reacting to Schaefer's remarks this month that seemed to connect North Korea's test-firing of missiles with the South Korean immigrants who are among the students learning English in Maryland's public schools.

Schaefer's comments came during a July 5 meeting of the state Board of Public Works, while the board was discussing a $2.4.million state contract to create a proficiency test for the 30,000 students in Maryland taking English language classes.

In the course of his freewheeling commentary, Schaefer said: "Oh, we don't worry about any of those things like money. Or illegals crossing the border. That's nothing. That's just a given. Oh, come on. Korea is another one. All of the sudden, their they're our friends, too, shooting missiles at us."

In a letter to newspapers to clarify his intentions, Schaefer said: "I realize that I may have conveyed the impression that I do not support education for everyone in this country. My concern is: who pays for the education?"

In his quest for a third term, the 84-year-old former Baltimore mayor and two-term governor faces two Democratic challengers in the Sept. 12 primary: Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens and Del. Peter Franchot (D-Montgomery).

Schaefer sparked a controversy two years ago when he complained about an interaction with a Latino worker at a McDonald's restaurant who had trouble speaking English. More recently, he drew widespread criticism for ogling a young female aide to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) as she walked away from him during a public meeting in February. He later apologized.

Ann E. Marimow

By Phyllis Jordan  |  July 17, 2006; 8:38 AM ET
 
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