Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening isn't a shoo-in for his party's nomination next year, but he's a lot closer than he was just days ago, political analysts say.
The incumbent Democrat's most serious rival, Rep. Benjamin Cardin of Baltimore, dropped out of the race yesterday. That leaves only Harford County Executive Eileen Rehrmann, a relative unknown in state politics, to challenge the governor in next year's party primary.
"She's got the potential to put it together" to run a serious race, one Democratic activist said. "But I just don't see it happening."
"I don't see that as a serious challenge," Republican campaign consultant Kevin Igoe said. "She's totally unknown in most of the state; she can't raise the funds."
So does that leave anybody to challenge the governor, who remains unpopular with voters, according to polls?
Even anti-Glendening Democrats, such as Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, don't see major rivals waiting in the wings.
Montgomery County businessman Stewart Bainum Jr., a former state senator who almost ran for governor in 1994, is widely rumored to be eyeing the void left by Mr. Cardin. But Democratic insiders say Mr. Bainum is probably too busy with his business, health care giant Manor Care, to jump in.
Mr. Bainum didn't return a phone call yesterday.
And Mrs. Rehrmann should not be taken too lightly, many analysts say.
"Cardin would have buried Glendening, but Rehrmann, I wouldn't count her out . . . [the governor] is not in good shape at all," said pollster Brad Coker , president of Mason-Dixon Political/Media Research.
Mrs. Rehrmann "has got a very good story to tell," one Democratic Party insider said. "She's smart, she's been a good county executive."
Mr. Cardin yesterday said he was motivated to drop out mostly by his desire to stay in Congress, which he said has been more productive in the past year than it has been in some time. …