Poorer 'Davids' felled 2 political Goliaths

November 28, 1990|By C. Fraser Smith | C. Fraser Smith,Annapolis Bureau of The Sun

ANNAPOLIS -- In the struggle between big money campaigns and campaigns dependent on volunteers, big money usually wins and wins big.

But for those who insist David can take Goliath to the cleaners under the right circumstances, now comes the evidence of Baltimore County's 1990 race for county executive.

According to final campaign finance reports filed yesterday, the Republican challenger, Roger B. Hayden, with a bankroll of $128,000 defeated the Democratic incumbent, Dennis F. Rasmussen, whose campaign wallet held $1.076 million.

Mr. Hayden seems to have succeeded in direct proportion to his lack of money. He defeated his better-financed opponent by a whopping 62 percent of the vote to 38 percent.

"It was a grass-roots campaign," said Jim Anders, Mr. Hayden's campaign treasurer. "We didn't have any salaries. It was all volunteer."

The biggest campaign expenditure for the Hayden forces went for signs and brochures -- about $59,000. He spent only $41,000 on other advertising, including television. Mr. Rasmussen spent far more.

Nor was Baltimore County the only venue for successes by the relatively unfunded.

In Howard County where the Democratic incumbent, Elizabeth Bobo, raised almost twice as much money as her Republican challenger, Charles I. Ecker, the low-budget campaigner prevailed again.

According to the reports filed with the State Administrative Board of Election Laws yesterday, Ms. Bobo raised $155,774.56 to $85,253.06 for Mr. Ecker.

Ms. Bobo's report shows that her campaign left a fairly substantial portion of the money she raised -- about $28,000 -- in the bank on Election Day. An analysis of that race might suggest that her campaign underestimated the threat from Mr. Ecker: In a race that was lost by about 700 votes, that money might have made a difference in the outcome.

Of course, big money still counts.

In the race for governor this year, Gov. William Donald Schaefer raised more than $2.38 million to $119,285 for Republican William S. Shepard. Mr. Schaefer appeared to have more money in the bank when the race was over -- about $140,000 -- than Mr. Shepard spent.

With a huge financial advantage over his opponent, Mr. Schaefer won -- in a year of virulent anti-incumbency -- with about 60 percent of the vote to Mr. Shepard's 40 percent. Mr. Schaefer accurately observed that many incumbents held their seats by only the narrowest of margins.

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