ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- The fallout from a sex scandal involving one of Maryland's best-known congressmen has suddenly overshadowed the presidential race in Maryland, where President Carter appears to be clinging to a narrow lead.
Most political talk in the state now revolves around the fate of Rep. Robert Bauman, R-Md., the nationally recognized spokesman for conservative views who was arraigned in Washington Oct. 3 on charges of soliciting sex from a 16-year-old boy.
The revelation, and Bauman's surprise explanation that the incident had been caused by alcoholism, stunned the state and threatened the Eastern Shore congressman's entire political future.
Other races, however, were apparently unaffected.
With a month to go, workers for Ronald Reagan, for instance, concentrated on building support among traditionally Democratic voters in black and Jewish communities, attempting to overcome the lopsided Democratic advantage primarily in and around Baltimore.
Democrats turned their attention to producing a large voter turnout Nov. 4, saying that should ensure a Carter win in Maryland as long as nothing goes haywire in world or national affairs between now and then.
In the congressional campaign until last week, Bauman had been considered a shoo-in to win a fourth term against Royden Dyson, the state delegate from southern Maryland whom Bauman defeated in 1978.
Now, with national conservative groups, the state NAACP and a major Eastern Shore newspaper all calling on Bauman to resign, the race in the rural, conservative yet predominantly Democratic district is considered a tossup.
Bauman, one of two Republicans in Maryland's eight-member House delegation, had been considered a likely senatorial candidate in 1982 and held a seat the struggling Maryland GOP felt was in no danger of being lost.
'The Shore tends to vote fairly conservatively. I think (Bauman) may lose,' said Barbara Hoffman, executive director of the state Democratic Party. 'Dyson is running a good race. He is a viable candidate. The last time he ran (against Bauman) he got 46 percent of the vote. He is not a fringe candidate. He is a legitimate candidate.'
While the Republicans may lose Bauman's seat, they feel like they may win the suburban Washington seat held by Rep. Michael Barnes, D-Md. Barnes is receiving a strong challeng from the man he unseated in 1978, millionaire Newton I. Steers.
Professionals from both parties say the Steers-Barnes race could go either way.
The Republicans are also mounting a challenge in the district north of Baltimore represented by nine-term Rep. Clarence D. Long, D-Md., but GOP insiders say privately it will be a major upset if former federal Maritime Commissioner Helen Delich Bentley can unseat the 71-year-old congressman.
In the presidential race, Carter is clearly the favorite to win Maryland, but his lead is fragile.
'It looks good for the president,' said Ms. Hoffman. 'But Maryland is like every other state. It is very, very 'iffy' all around. (Independent candidate John) Anderson is a factor in Maryland.'
'It is very fluid. The lines aren't drawn. People are still shifting around. I think it will be an impossible election to call until the last minute. It is going to depend on what happens in the world, and what the candidates do,' she said.
'There is not the kind of emotional support _ that, 'My man, no matter what' _ that you have sometimes,' she said.
Reagan's campaign coordinator in Baltimore, Joseph Ayd, said the Republican is making inroads in the city's black and Jewish communities, a must if Reagan is to cut into Carter's core of support.
'I'm not predicting we're going to carry the city,' Ayd said. 'But, it is going to be close, depending on the turnout. It will be strong enough to carry the state as a result.'
Reagan's strength in Maryland is expected to be in the state's less populous but more conservative western counties and in the rural farm and fishing communities of the Eastern Shore.
In the state's U.S. Senate race, incumbent Charles McC. Mathias, R-Md., is not expected to have too much difficulty against state Sen. Edward Conroy, a conservative from suburban Washington who is backed primarily by veterans and anti-abortion groups.
Mathias has wide name recognition, plenty of money to spend on the campaign, the backing of unions that normally support Democrats, and the general advantage of bipartisan support. |adv oct 14 or thereafter