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Parris Glendening

Former governor Glendening discussing smart growth principles in September 2006

In office
January 18, 1995 – January 15, 2003
Lieutenant Kathleen Kennedy Townsend
Preceded by William Donald Schaefer
Succeeded by Robert Ehrlich

In office
Preceded by Lawrence Hogan
Succeeded by Wayne K. Curry

Born June 11, 1942 (1942-06-11) (age 67)
Bronx, New York City, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Lynne Shaw (div.);[citation needed] Frances Hughes (1976–2001 div.);[1] Jennifer Crawford (2002–present)
Religion Roman Catholic

Parris Nelson Glendening (born June 11, 1942), a member of the United States Democratic Party, was the 59th Governor of Maryland from 1995 to 2003. He had also been the County Executive of Prince George's County, Maryland from 1982 to 1994.


Early life and career

Glendening was born and raised a Roman Catholic in The Bronx, New York City, but later in his youth moved to the state of Florida. Growing up in poverty, Glendening sought a scholarship to Broward Community College. Other financial aid later enabled him to attend the Florida State University, where he received a bachelor's degree (1964), a master's degree (1965), and a Ph.D. (1967), becoming the youngest student in FSU history to receive a doctorate in political science.[2] When he graduated he taught Government and Politics as a professor at the University of Maryland, College Park for 27 years. In 1977, he co-authored Pragmatic Federalism: An Intergovernmental View of American Government with Mavis Mann Reeves.

Glendening's career in public service began in 1973 as a city councilman in the town of Hyattsville, Maryland. He was elected to the county council of Prince George's County, Maryland in 1974 and twice served as the council chairman. In 1982, he was elected as the County Executive of Prince George's County, and was the first county executive in Maryland history to be elected to three terms (1982–94). Under Glendening's leadership, Prince George's County was selected as an "All America County" by the National Civic League,[3] and City and State Magazine named him the "Most Valuable County Official" in the nation.

Glendening had a brother, Bruce, who died of AIDS in 1992.[4]

Governor of Maryland

In 1994, Glendening was elected to his first term as Governor of Maryland, edging out Ellen Sauerbrey by only 5993 votes in a state that is overwhelmingly Democratic. The victory was disputed, and the result was challenged in court. The court refused to overturn Glendening's tentative win, and Glendening became the first Maryland governor elected from the Washington, D.C. region in over 100 years. In 1998, Governor Glendening won re-election to a second term by a solid but not overwhelming margin—again beating Sauerbrey, who announced she would make no further runs for the office.

Glendening came into office amid missteps and minor scandals stemming from his tenure as County Executive of Prince George's County. His approval rating was as low as 18% in the spring of 1995. His early administration was marked by tax reform. From 1994 to 1998, he cut or lowered over 50 Maryland taxes, including the state income tax. In addition, Glendening was the sitting governor when the Washington Redskins (who play in Landover) and the Baltimore Ravens arrived in the state, though he was not directly responsible for either move.

During Glendening's second term, serious environmental issues concerning the Chesapeake Bay and the overdevelopment of rural areas prompted him to focus on issues of growth and environmental stewardship. Glendening is widely recognized as a pioneer in land development issues[citation needed] and is credited[citation needed] for coining the phrase "Smart Growth."

The final years of his second term as Governor were plagued by a marital crisis (see below) and a $2 billion state budget deficit. The rural areas of Maryland—largely Republican—had long criticized Glendening for what they perceived as overzealous environmental regulations as well as ignoring their budgetary needs (bridges, highways, etc.).

Governor Glendening halted executions in Maryland by an executive order on May 9, 2002, but the subsequent governor, Robert Ehrlich (R), resumed executions in 2004. (See Capital punishment in Maryland.)

In 1995, Glendening declared that he would render any individual serving a life sentence ineligible for executive clemency unless they were seriously ill or near death. This policy, termed "life means life," was heavily criticized, and it was abandoned by Glendening's successor, Robert Ehrlich, who created a new policy in which there would be case-by-case judgments.

On January 25, 2002, Glendening divorced his wife and married one of his deputy chiefs of staff, Jennifer Crawford, making her Glendening's third wife. Crawford was 35 at the time, considerably younger than the then-59-year-old Glendening, and she was pregnant at the time of their wedding. She gave birth to a baby girl, Gabrielle, on August 18, marking the first time since 1879 that a Maryland governor had a baby born during his term of office.

Glendening was determined by a number of pollsters during his second term to be the least popular governor in the United States.[5]

2002 Gubernatorial election

During the 2002 Maryland governor election, Glendening was not eligible to run due to the state constitutional term limit. His lieutenant governor, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, was nominated by the Democrats to run. Townsend was damaged during the election due to wide criticism by rural voters, especially farmers, directed at Glendening for what they considered overzealous environmental legislation that significantly raised the cost of participating in agribusiness.

Townsend lost the election 48% to 52% to the Republican U.S. Congressman Robert Ehrlich. The Republicans relied in large part on rural counties and low minority turnout—due to Townsend's unpopular choice for her lieutenant governor, a retired white Admiral, Charles R. Larson, who had changed parties only weeks before—for Ehrlich to achieve his victory in November 2002, taking office in January 2003. Townsend's pick of Larson, which she made without consulting the influential black Democratic leaders in the state (which is nearly one-third black), was a point of controversy in the campaign.[6]

Not only did Townsend lose the race for governor, but Glendening's hand-picked candidate for the comptroller, John T. Willis, lost to the incumbent, a Glendening nemesis and former two-term Governor William Donald Schaefer, in the Democratic primaries.

In spite of the possibility that his own unpopularity may have harmed Townsend's own gubernatorial bid, Glendening made a harsh comment regarding his Lieutenant Governor's campaign, calling it "one of the worst-run campaigns in the country." This comment may have contributed to a rupture in the personal relationship between the two Maryland leaders.[7]

Life after the governorship

Glendening left office in January 2003 with low approval ratings,[8] and he largely stayed out of the limelight. He and his successor, Robert Ehrlich, informally agreed not to criticize one another. Glendening quietly continued his advocacy work for Smart Growth.

Glendening broke his 3.5-year silence in late August 2006, when he endorsed Kweisi Mfume for the U.S. Senate. (Mfume eventually lost the Democratic primary to Congressman Ben Cardin, who went on to win the Senate seat.)[9]

Glendening did not attend the inauguration of Governor Martin O'Malley in January 2007.[10]


  1. ^ Sunnucks, Mike (2001-11-19). "Md. Governor, first lady divorce". Washington Business Journal. American City Business Journals. Retrieved 2008-08-01. 
  2. ^ Peck, Dana (February March 1999). "FSU LAUNCHED AN EDUCATION GOVERNOR". Florida State Times. Retrieved 2007-08-07. "In 1967, at the age of 25, Glendening became the youngest student to receive a Ph.D. in political science at FSU." 
  3. ^ "All-America City: Past Winners". Retrieved 2007-08-06. ""Prince George's County, 1986-87"" 
  4. ^ LeDuc, Daniel (1999-03-09). "Gov.'s Gay Rights Bid Has Family Ties". Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-07-06. 
  5. ^ Moore, Stephen; Dean Stansel (1998-09-29). "Governor Glendening Gets a C on His Report Card". Cato Institute. Retrieved 2008-01-21. 
  6. ^ "Ehrlich wins in Maryland's governor's race". Inside Politics. CNN. 2002-11-02. Retrieved 2008-01-21. 
  7. ^ Koenig, Sarah (2002-11-26). "For this pair, the talking is over". The Baltimore Sun.,0,836237,full.story?coll=bal-home-headlines. Retrieved 2008-01-21. 
  8. ^ Olesker, Michael (2005-11-07). "Polls show the points; points show the trends". Baltimore Sun.,0,3279456.column?coll=bal-mdpolitics-storyutil. Retrieved 2007-08-07. "At his best, Glendening's approval rating was 56 percent. When he left office, it was 30 percent. Ehrlich's approval rating is 50 percent." 
  9. ^ "Mfume snags Glendening endorsement". U.S. News & World Report. 2006-08-24. Retrieved 2007-08-07. 
  10. ^ Skalka, Jennifer; Andrew A. Green (2007-01-18). "'New day' for Md.". Baltimore Sun.,0,7192093.story?page=2&coll=bal-mdpolitics-utility. Retrieved 2007-08-07. "Comptroller William Donald Schaefer, the former governor and Baltimore mayor who was voted out of office last year, did not attend; nor did former Gov. Parris N. Glendening." 


Political offices
Preceded by
Lawrence Hogan
Prince George's County, Maryland Executive
1982 – 1994
Succeeded by
Wayne K. Curry
Preceded by
William Donald Schaefer
Governor of Maryland
1995 – 2003
Succeeded by
Robert Ehrlich
Preceded by
Mike Leavitt
Chairman of the National Governors Association
2000 – 2001
Succeeded by
John Engler
Party political offices
Preceded by
William Donald Schaefer
Democratic nominee for Governor of Maryland
1994, 1998
Succeeded by
Kathleen Kennedy Townsend


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