If campaign spending reports provide clues to strategies, then Baltimore County Executive Dennis F. Rasmussen and Howard County Executive Elizabeth Bobo took different approaches during the final weeks of their losing re-election bids.
Rasmussen spent about a fourth of his $1,076,000 campaign fund, leaving only $1,257 unspent, in a furious attempt to stave off a gaining challenger, according to a report filed with state elections officials yesterday.
Bobo's spending seemed more leisurely, as the one-term Democrat left almost a fifth of her total $156,284 war chest sitting in the bank.
To the shock of many Democrats and Bobo herself, Republican challenger Charles I. Ecker sneaked past Bobo on Election Day, winning by 450 votes.
Bobo had $28,273 left by the campaign's end. From Oct. 22 to Nov. 20, the latest campaign fund reporting period, she raised only $6,435 and had expenditures of $24,815. Candidates had to mail or deliver reports for that four-week period by yesterday to escape a minor fine.
By state law, Bobo can use the money for a future campaign. If she doesn't, she must refund it or donate it to charity, the state Democratic Party or to another candidate.
The campaign report for Ecker was not available. In the reporting period that ended Oct. 21, however, he had raised $66,344, which included a $20,000 personal loan.
Unlike Bobo in Howard County, Rasmussen faced several clear signs that his race would be tough. Baltimore County homeowners, furious at rising property taxes, had launched a tax revolt, and some nicknamed the executive "Taxmussen." Polls showed Rasmussen's GOP challenger, Roger B. Hayden, gaining.
During the last four-week period, Rasmussen spent $272,000, compared to Hayden's $56,900. Virtually all of that spending took place by Election Day, Nov. 6.
Rasmussen spent $130,000 on television ads, $24,000 for postage for direct mailings and $49,000 to the caterer of his September fund-raiser.
Despite the Rasmussen outpouring, underdog Hayden pulled off a 62 percent to 38 percent victory.
Hayden actually raised more money during the last period than did Rasmussen, although $10,000 of that was a loan. Hayden's campaign ended up $4,000 in the red, counting the loan. However, he did get 20 contributions of $1,000 each, which boosted his total campaign fund to $134,000.
Without an incumbent running for re-election, the close Anne Arundel County executive race produced a record amount of fund-raising and spending.
The victor, Republican Robert R. Neall, who captured 51 percent of the vote, spent almost all of the $475,577 he raised during the campaign. He ended up with $15,100, although he owed $6,980 in loans and bills.
During the last four-week period, Neall raised $62,424 and spent $92,210, including $15,170 on television, cable and newspaper advertising. He also enlisted the help of Bruce Bereano, an influential Annapolis lobbyist.
"Times have changed," said Larry Telford, Neall's finance director. "You just raise more money, no matter what the race is."
Les Cohen, a campaign coordinator for Theodore J. Sophocleus, Neall's Democratic opponent, said candidates have to rely on costly advertising to reach a growing population.
"Look at the number of people who voted and how many you could reach through means other than mass media," he said. "It's a big cost, but you can only go to so many bull roasts and knock on so many doors."
As of 5 p.m. yesterday, the state Board of Elections did not have a campaign fund report from Sophocleus, who is in his last days of his County Council term. In previous reporting periods, Sophocleus had trailed Neall in fund-raising. By Oct. 21, for example, he had raised $283,048 compared with Neall's $413,153 by that date.
Harford County Executive-elect Eileen Rehrmann, who defeated Republican Geoffrey R. Close by only 775 votes, got a little help from her Democratic friends, her report showed.
The Maryland Democratic Party provided $31,435 worth of printing, mailing and sign-making help, and Gov. William Donald Schaefer's campaign committee gave her $15,000.
Overall, Rehrmann reported raising $341,665 and spending all but $3,818 of that. During the last four-week period, she took in $116,464 and spent $128,954.
Close's most recent report was not available. By Oct. 21, the former Bel Air mayor had raised $48,504.
Winning the three Carroll County commissioner seats proved to be less costly than the executive races in surrounding counties.
Incumbent Commissioner Julia Gouge, a Republican, spent $27,491 for her third-place showing in the voting. Jennifer Munch, her campaign treasurer, said Gouge's total receipts were $28,265. During the last few weeks of the campaign, Gouge spent $2,300 on print and broadcast advertising, Munch said.
In his finance report, Manchester Mayor Elmer Lippy, a Democrat, said he received $12,072 and spent $11,475 for his second-place showing. In the last week of the campaign, on Oct. 30, he spent $2,593 to mail 25,675 brochures.
Republican Donald Dell's finance report showed total receipts of $22,585 and an equal amount in expenditures in the campaign. Dell, who placed first, lent his campaign $2,080 of his own money and $1,818 of it was paid back.
The spending report of only one group involved in the property tax-cap issue in Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Montgomery counties was available yesterday at the state Board of Elections.
Citizens for Responsible Government, a group largely financed by the Maryland State Teachers Association, spent virtually all of the $326,820 it raised during its successful battle against the caps.