Parris Glendening

Parris Glendening

Glendening in September 2006, discussing smart growth principles.
59th Governor of Maryland
In office
January 18, 1995  January 15, 2003
Lieutenant Kathleen Kennedy Townsend
Preceded by William Donald Schaefer
Succeeded by Robert Ehrlich
4th Executive of Prince George's County
In office
1983  December 1994
Preceded by Lawrence Hogan
Succeeded by Wayne K. Curry
Personal details
Born Parris Nelson Glendening
(1942-06-11) June 11, 1942
Bronx, New York, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Lynne Shaw (div., 1970s)[1][2]
Frances Hughes (1976–2001 div.);[3]
Jennifer Crawford Glendening (2002–present)[4]
Religion Roman Catholicism

Parris Nelson Glendening (born June 11, 1942), is an American politician. A Democrat, he served as the 59th Governor of Maryland from January 18, 1995 to January 15, 2003. Previously, he was the County Executive of Prince George's County, Maryland from 1982 to 1994.

Early life, education, and academic 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 received 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.[5] 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.

Local politics

Glendening's career in public service began in 1973 as a city councilman in the Washington, D.C. suburb 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, eventually becoming 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,[6] and City and State Magazine named him the "Most Valuable County Official" in the nation. He and his top aides stood to benefit from a controversial Prince George's County supplemental retirement plan that was not widely disclosed by the press until after he was elected governor in an extremely close contest.[7]

Governor of Maryland


Glendening was elected to his first term as Governor of Maryland, edging out Ellen Sauerbrey by 5993 votes. Sauerbrey challenged the result in court claiming that widespread voting by dead people occurred in the African American community. No evidence of ballots cast in the names of dead voters was introduced in court. On the eve of the trial, Sauerbrey's attorneys talked of 89 such votes, but checking by reporters found no such ballots.[8] Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr. ruled against Sauerbrey's claim and certified Glendening's win.[9] Glendening became the first Maryland governor elected from the Washington, D.C., region since Oden Bowie was elected in 1867. In 1998, Glendening won re-election to a second term, again defeating Sauerbrey, this time 55% to 44%.


Glendening came into office weakened by the 1994 election battle and plagued by a minor scandals stemming from some of his Administration officials' early use of their Prince George's County pensions. By the Spring of 1995, his approval rating was as low as 18%.

Despite this, he had several early successes. His early administration was marked by tax reform and economic development. From 1994 to 1998, he cut or lowered more than 50 Maryland taxes, including the state personal income tax. By the end of his first term, Maryland's national rank in job creation had moved from 43rd to 14th. Glendening's job creation efforts focused mainly on biotechnology. Seeking to make Maryland a world leader in this area, Glendening successfully recruited companies such as Human Genome Sciences, Gallow Lab, and Qiagen to Maryland. As of June 2014, Maryland was home to the 2nd-largest biotech cluster per capita in the U.S.[10]

Glendening also successfully brought the Washington Redskins (who play in Landover) and the Baltimore Ravens to Maryland.[11] Glendening personally negotiated the relocation agreements with both owners and then undertook a politically heated battle against members of his own party – led by State Senator Chris Van Hollen[12] – to build the teams' new stadiums and pay for the needed road improvements.

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[13] and is credited[14] for coining the phrase "Smart Growth."

In 2001, Maryland legislators passed a bill that Glendening had promoted for the previous two years banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Glendening signed the bill.[15]

Though overseeing the executions of Flint Gregory Hunt in 1997 and Tyrone Delano Gilliam, Jr. in 1998, Governor Glendening halted executions in Maryland by an executive order on May 9, 2002,[16] but the subsequent governor, Robert Ehrlich (R), lifted the ban.[17] (See Capital punishment in Maryland.) The ban was re-instituted by Governor Ehrlich's successor, Martin O'Malley, who eventually signed a bill in 2013 ending Maryland's use of capital punishment.

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.

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 Republican ran an inclusive campaign focusing on his bipartisan work in Congress and his pro-choice voting record.[18] His efforts resulted in record voter turnout in Maryland's rural and suburban counties. At the same time Townsend's campaign was plagued with missteps emblematic of which was her unpopular lieutenant governor choice, retired Admiral, Charles R. Larson, who had never been involved in politics and had changed parties only weeks before. Townsend's pick of Larson, which she made without consulting the Democratic leaders in the state, was a point of controversy in the campaign.[19] Ehrlich was victorious in November 2002, taking office in January 2003.

Post political career

Glendening left office on January 15, 2003 with low approval ratings,[20] 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.)[21]

Glendening did not attend the inauguration of Governor Martin O'Malley on January 17, 2007.[22]

Personal life

On January 25, 2002, Glendening divorced his wife Frances Hughes Glendening 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.[4] In March 2002, the couple announced that they were expecting a baby.[23] Jennifer gave birth to a baby girl, Gabrielle, on August 18, 2002 marking the first time since 1879 that a Maryland governor had a baby born during his term of office.[24]

Glendening had a brother, Bruce, who died of AIDS in 1992.[25]

Glendening regards University Park, Maryland, as his hometown.[26]

Electoral history

Maryland Gubernatorial Election, 1998
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Parris Glendening (incumbent) 846,972 55.14
Republican Ellen Sauerbrey 688,357 44.82
Maryland Gubernatorial Election, 1994
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Parris Glendening 708,094 50.21
Republican Ellen Sauerbrey 702,101 49.78
Maryland Gubernatorial Election, 1994 - Democratic Primary
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Parris Glendening 293,314 53.59
Democratic American Joe Miedusiewski 100,296 18.32
Democratic Melvin Steinberg 82,308 15.04
Democratic Mary Boergers 46,888 8.57
Democratic Don Allensworth 15,680 2.87
Democratic Walter Gilchrist Finch 5,369 0.98


  1. "Maryland Governor Parris N. Glendening". National Governors Association. Retrieved March 18, 2011.
  2. "Parris N. Glendening". Maryland State Archives. Retrieved March 18, 2011.
  3. Sunnucks, Mike (November 19, 2001). "Md. Governor, first lady divorce". Washington Business Journal. American City Business Journals. Retrieved August 1, 2008.
  4. 1 2 Nitkin, David (January 29, 2002). "Governor weds longtime aide". originally The Baltimore Sun newspaper, found on Maryland State Archives. Retrieved March 18, 2011.
  5. Peck, Dana (February–March 1999). "FSU LAUNCHED AN EDUCATION GOVERNOR". Florida State Times. Archived from the original on June 10, 2007. Retrieved August 7, 2007. In 1967, at the age of 25, Glendening became the youngest student to receive a Ph.D. in political science at FSU.
  6. "All-America City: Past Winners". Archived from the original on April 3, 2007. Retrieved August 6, 2007. Prince George's County, 1986-87
  7. "GLENDENING FORGOES EARLY P.G. PENSION". Washington Post. January 31, 1995. Retrieved April 25, 2016.
  8. "Sauerbrey abandons election appeal". Baltimore Sun. January 16, 1995. Retrieved November 19, 2012.
  9. Myers, Marcia; Zorzi, William F. Jr. (March 15, 1995). "U.S. pursuing new claims of city vote fraud; November election back in spotlight amid allegations". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved December 4, 2015. Judge Thieme called for an investigation into some of the problems highlighted during Mrs. Sauerbrey's challenge, ... but ... rejected her legal claims, and she chose not to appeal.
  10. "Maryland, Virginia biotech industries take center stage in D.C.". Washington Business Journal. 28 June 2011. Retrieved 3 June 2014.
  11. "Modell Announces Browns' Move to Baltimore". November 7, 1995. Retrieved November 19, 2012.
  12. "Outsiders relish football tussle Underdogs: State legislators outside the power loop are fighting plans to fund football stadiums, and are enjoying the attention. - Baltimore Sun". February 8, 1996. Retrieved November 19, 2012.
  13. "Smart growth ‘pioneer' Glendening touts transit". April 15, 2011. Retrieved November 19, 2012. C1 control character in |title= at position 14 (help)
  14. O'Keefe, Karen. "The Town Paper: Smart Growth's Parris Glendeninglaves". Retrieved November 19, 2012.
  15. Dresser, Michael (May 15, 2001). "Hixson savors bittersweet victory Gay rights bill signing product of long fight that hit close to home".
  16. McDonald, Greg (May 23, 2002). "Illinois Death Penalty Ban Spurs Legislators Into Action". Washington, DC: Pew Center on the States. Retrieved March 21, 2011.
  17. "Timeline: The death penalty in Maryland". Tribune Newspaper. Retrieved March 21, 2011.
  18. "Ehrlich Dogged by Gubernatorial Question". August 16, 1999. Retrieved November 19, 2012.
  19. "Ehrlich wins in Maryland's governor's race". Inside Politics. CNN. November 2, 2002. Retrieved January 21, 2008.
  20. Olesker, Michael (November 7, 2005). "Polls show the points; points show the trends". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved August 7, 2007. 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.
  21. "Mfume snags Glendening endorsement". U.S. News & World Report. August 24, 2006. Retrieved August 7, 2007.
  22. Skalka, Jennifer; Andrew A. Green (January 18, 2007). "'New day' for Md.". Baltimore Sun. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved August 7, 2007. 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.
  23. Montgomery, Lori (March 2, 2002). "New Md. First Lady Expecting Baby in September". Washington Post. p. B02. Retrieved March 18, 2011.
  24. "Maryland governor is a new papa". Lewiston, ID: Lewiston Morning Tribune. March 19, 2002. p. 2A. Retrieved March 18, 2011.
  25. LeDuc, Daniel (March 9, 1999). "Gov.'s Gay Rights Bid Has Family Ties". Washington Post. Retrieved July 6, 2007.
  26. Profile of Parris Glendening Retrieved 2014-10-31.
Political offices
Preceded by
Lawrence Hogan
Prince George's County, Maryland Executive
Succeeded by
Wayne K. Curry
Preceded by
William Donald Schaefer
Governor of Maryland
January 18, 1995  January 15, 2003
Succeeded by
Robert Ehrlich
Preceded by
Mike Leavitt
Chairman of the National Governors Association
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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