Former Mayor Clarence H. "Du" Burns, who wants his old job back, got a boost yesterday as about 50 high rollers attended a breakfast fund-raiser in his honor, forking over $500 apiece for the honor of forking down bacon and eggs with the East Baltimore mayoral hopeful.
Mr. Burns promised the group that if he defeats Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, he'll make sure that the door to the mayor's office is open to constituents.
"If you've got a problem with the city or in the city, I will deal with that," said Mr. Burns, who said it has been more difficult for business leaders and community leaders to reach the mayor since Mr. Schmoke has held office.
"The mayor has to be accessible," Mr. Burns said. "I don't mean just to meet people on the street, say hello and keep going."
Few of the city's business and political elite were in attendance at the Preston Room, however. City Councilwoman Jacqueline McLean, D-2nd, who less than 48 hours earlier was with Mr. Schmoke when he announced his candidacy for re-election, was the only elected official to attend.
Allen Quille, Mr. Burns' campaign manager, said receipts for 70 to 75 tickets have been collected, and that the fund-raiser could net $50,000.
Mr. Burns, who said his organization already has purchased bumper stickers, lawn signs and billboard advertising, said he will use the money to air television ads in the weeks before the election.
Four years ago, when Mr. Burns narrowly lost to Mr. Schmoke, a critical shortage of cash kept his campaign message off the airwaves in the last weeks before the election.
"I think if we buy into television . . . buy good spots and buy enough of them, we will be effective," he said.
But Mr. Burns concedes he will fall far short of Mr. Schmoke -- who has more than $500,000 on hand -- in the race to collect contributions.
Mr. Schmoke is having his own $500 breakfast Monday at the Center Club, and at least 300 people are expected to attend, according to campaign treasurer Ronald M. Shapiro. That will come on the heels of the fund-raiser the mayor had Sunday, which drew thousands of contributors at $20 apiece.