ANNAPOLIS -- Declaring that her personal political strategy is "deterrence and preparedness," Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., told supporters at a posh but hot $500-a-person outdoor fund-raiser yesterday that she already has raised more than $1 million for her re-election bid next year.
The first-term senator, appearing at a sweltering afternoon reception at the home of powerful Annapolis lobbyist Bruce C. Bereano, said Federal Election Commission reports to be released this week will show she has surpassed her own goal of raising $1 million by July 1.
"I'm willing to take on all comers. But right now, I'm trying to practice a strategy a Marine Corps man would know: deterrence and preparedness," she said as she stood next to Sen. Charles S. Robb, D-Va., a Marine Corps veteran and co-host of the fund-raising event.
"Part of our deterrence was to show our capacity to raise funds," she told an audience that included Gov. William Donald Schaefer, former Gov. Marvin Mandel and about 125 other Maryland- and Virginia-elected officials and political high-rollers.
Others who braved the stifling, nearly breezeless afternoon to eat jumbo shrimp, crab dip, asparagus wrapped in smoked salmon, slices of rare roast beef and a variety of other hors d'oeuvres included at least three of Maryland's five Democratic congressmen.
The turnout was smaller than the 200 people Mr. Bereano predicted, which he attributed to the heat.
Proceeds from the event are to go to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, an organization chaired by Mr. Robb that is helping the 19 incumbent Democratic senators who are seeking re-election next year.
Ms. Mikulski said the DSCC could return as much as $300,000 to her campaign for printing or other campaign costs. "Right now, I have been targeted by the Republican National Committee. Why? Because I'm the only Democratic woman in the U.S. Senate. . . . They would like to knock me off because of the historical status I have, and because of the advocacy I represent," she said.
Joyce L. Tehres, chairman of the Maryland Republican Party, said Republicans are focusing on Ms. Mikulski's seat because she is "too liberal" for Maryland. Ms. Tehres predicted, for example, that her vote against the use of force just before the Persian Gulf war started will come back to haunt her.
After hostilities began, Ms. Mikulski joined other senators who had opposed the use of force in throwing their support behind the president.
Two Republicans, Harford County State's Attorney Joseph I. Cassilly and Stuart Hopkins, a Caroline County consultant on disabilities issues, already have announced plans to challenge her re-election.
But most Republicans are waiting to see if U.S. Representative Helen Delich Bentley, R-Md.-2nd, will take the plunge. Mrs. Bentley has said that she will not decide whether to enter the race until this fall, after she sees how the Democratic-controlled legislature redraws the boundaries of her district.
Senator Mikulski praised Mrs. Bentley so warmly yesterday it sounded almost like an endorsement. "I like Helen. We have a lot of similarities," she said. But several people at the fund-raiser suggested that Mrs. Bentley was threatening to run against Senator Mikulski only as leverage to win a better congressional district for herself.
"Helen is a very good politician," Senator Mikulski said. "She's using every means at her disposal to get a good district."
The senator began to intensify her most recent fund-raising last year, collecting $310,000 in the final six months of 1990. As of Jan. 1, she had $490,000 in the bank, according to her Federal Election Commission report.