Cassilly Learns Some Lessons In Loss

March 08, 1992|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff writer

Joseph I. Cassilly sees his third-place showing in Tuesday's Republican primary for U.S. Senate as a lesson -- not a loss.

After months of drumming up votes for the GOP nomination, Harford's state's attorney said he has learned new tricks for the campaign trail, as well as the cost such a campaign imposes on the home front.

For the last two weeks before the election, Cassilly missed out on family dinners at his Churchville home -- something he said did notplease his three children, ages 10, 6 and 4.

"My kids were not enthusiastic supporters of my campaign activities," Cassilly said. "I'dbe out there going from morning to night. I felt guilty about that."

On some nights, Cassilly said he would be greeted by his 4-year-old son, Luke, upon returning home from campaigning, often close to midnight.

Cassilly, 41, captured 8 percent (15,841) of votes cast inthe Republican race to challenge Democratic incumbent Barbara Mikulski.

Alan Keyes of Montgomery County won the GOP nomination, receiving 95,706 votes. Delegate Martha Scanlon Klima of Baltimore County finished second in the field of 15 candidates.

In Harford, Cassillyswept all 40 precincts, receiving 6,843 votes to 3,099 for Keyes and605 for Klima.

Cassilly said he has agreed to serve as a consultant on criminal justice issues for the Keyes campaign.

Meanwhile, Cassilly is already thinking about his political future, weighing the idea of running for a fourth term as state's attorney or seeking another office.

He said a number of party officials suggested he should run for another statewide office in the next election in 1994. He added some Keyes supporters have pledged their support in another campaign.

But Cassilly said he may focus on a county office to allow him to spend more time with his wife, Nancy, and their two sons and one daughter.

"I think I have to think about waiting until they're older before I do something (statewide)," Cassilly said.

Launching his campaign last fall, Cassilly spent his evenings attending Republican club meetings and dinners across the state. He often drove three hours to and from places like Oakland in Garrett County for two-hour meetings.

"Whoever said Maryland was a small state obviously nevercampaigned here," he said. "But you do it, because if the people aregoing to vote for you, they have to hear you and see you."

Cassilly kept his campaign expenses at a minimum, wanting to avoid going into debt. If you're campaigning against irresponsible spending in the government, he explained, you shouldn't allow your campaign to run inthe red.

The candidate spent about $20,000 on his campaign -- about the cost of one prime-time television advertisement. Most of the campaign money covered traveling expenses, signs and radio advertisements.

Cassilly targeted his campaign at Mikulski, rather than his GOP opponents. He argued that the incumbent has lost touch with voters, pointing to what he called her soft stand on crime and her vote against military action in the Persian Gulf.

But with little money inhis campaign coffer, Cassilly admittedly had a hard time attracting attention to his campaign.

Cassilly said the race taught him the importance of starting a statewide campaign early, beginning with organizing volunteers in each Maryland county.

Many people offered their help in this campaign, but Cassilly said he didn't have the organization to put them to work.

"Part of the problem is that the average working man, the regular guy, almost has an impossible time to runfor office," he said. "If you want to do it right, it becomes a full-time job."

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