Mikulski replies to GOP by setting 2 fund-raisers

May 04, 1991|By John W. Frece | John W. Frece,Annapolis Bureau of The Sun Tom Bowman of The Sun's Washington Bureau contributed to this article.

ANNAPOLIS -- Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., isn't wasting any time raising big money for the 1992 re-election campaign in which Republicans are looking at her as one of the Senate's vulnerable Democrats.

Next week she will host a $1,000-per-round golf fund-raiser, and she will be among the beneficiaries of a $500-a-person reception next month at the home of Bruce C. Bereano, one of Annapolis' highest-profile lobbyists.

Each of the events could raise as much as $100,000. Two Republicans have already announced plans to try to oust the state's junior senator, and others may join the race by the Dec. 23 filing deadline.

The golf outing -- dubbed Senator Barbara Mikulski's First Annual Golf Tournament -- at the Prince George's Country Club Monday is expected to include Gov. William Donald Schaefer, Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, D-Md., as well as Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell, D-Maine, and former House Speaker Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill, D-Mass.

On the afternoon of June 30, Governor Schaefer and Sen. Charles S. Robb, D-Va., will co-host a fund-raiser for Senator Mikulski at the home of Mr. Bereano, the highest-paid lobbyist in Annapolis. Proceeds will go to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which is chaired by Senator Robb and is raising money to help Ms. Mikulski and 18 other Democratic senators whoare up for re-election next year.

For the Democrats to feature Senator Robb and the governor at a Mikulski fund-raiser "this early out . . . indicates some degree of concern," said Joyce L. Terhes, chairwoman of the Maryland Republican Party. "I think they realize they are facing a more aggressive party, and a party that made a lot of gains in the '90 cycle. They may have been a little bit complacent [during the last election] and don't intend to be complacent again."

Mr. Bereano has invited 500 people to the backyard event and said he expected at least 200 to attend, including other top state officials, Democratic members of Maryland's congressional delegation and state legislators from both Virginia and Maryland. Lynda Johnson Robb, the senator's wife, is expected to be there, and former Virginia Gov. Gerald Baliles also has been invited, Mr. Bereano said.

The lobbyist said that he was asked at a dinner in January at Senator Robb's Virginia home to help raise money for Ms. Mikulski's re-election and that he subsequently offered to host a reception. Mr. Bereano staged a similar event at his home three years ago that raised $40,000 for Mr. Robb's senatorial campaign.

Members of Ms. Mikulski's staff are reluctant to say how much the senator plans to raise for her campaign. When she ran in 1986, the Baltimore Democrat spent $2.1 million to capture the Senate seat. Her opponent, Republican Linda Chavez, spent $1.7 million.

Two Republicans, Harford County State's Attorney Joseph I. Cassilly and Stuart Hopkins, a Caroline County consultant on disability issues, have already announced plans to oppose her. Others considering the race include Alan L. Keyes, the Republican Senate candidate who lost to Mr. Sarbanes in 1988; Joshua I. Smith, head of a Montgomery County computer consulting company; and Tom Clancy, Southern Marylander and best-selling author.

U.S. Representative Helen Delich Bentley, R-Md.-2nd, also is threatening to run against Ms. Mikulski if Democrats put her in a district with Representative Wayne T. Gilchrest, R-Md.-1st, when they redraw congressional district lines later this year. That threat is giving Democrats, particularly Ms. Mikulski, a case of the jitters.

Republicans think Ms. Mikulski may be politically vulnerable. A National Republican Campaign Committee spokesman said two weeks ago that the GOP was looking at the Maryland senatorial race "very carefully."

Mr. Bereano, in a cover letter included with the invitations, said checks should be forwarded to him but made payable to Mr. Robb's fund-raising committee. He also noted that under federal law, corporate checks could not be accepted.

The day after the Mikulski event, a new state law is scheduled to go into effect (if it is signed by Governor Schaefer, as expected) that would prohibit lobbyists such as Mr. Bereano from soliciting or transmitting contributions for candidates for Maryland's General Assembly. The new state law would have no effect on lobbyist involvement in congressional campaigns.

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