Maryland supporters of would-be presidential candidate Ross Perot have fallen short of collecting the 18,000 signatures they had hoped for after two weeks of canvassing voters to get the Texas billionaire's name on the November ballot.
As of yesterday, Mr. Perot's supporters had collected 13,760 of the 63,500 signatures needed, said Gloria Green, who along with her husband, David, serves as media coordinator for the Maryland Draft Perot campaign.
The deadline for getting on the ballot is Aug. 3.
Mrs. Green said the numbers fell short because of the Easter holiday. Mr. Perot's Annapolis campaign headquarters, which officially opens this week, didn't receive petitions yesterday from coordinators in several counties, including Baltimore.
"Thousands of signatures are still sitting out there," she said. "They haven't been turned in to Annapolis yet. Next Sunday we should have a substantial increase."
With 7,200 signatures collected the first week, supporters had hoped for 18,000 after two weeks, and are looking for 25,000 after three weeks, she said.
The Maryland drive hopes to have twice as many signatures as needed by June 1.
Momentum for Perot's presidential bid is building in both suburban Baltimore and Washington, Mrs. Green said. Numbers are strong in Howard, Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Montgomery counties, she said.
"Momentum is bigger than anybody imagines," she said. "It's greatly underestimated."
Mr. Perot's supporters plan to blitz shoppers at area Giant food stores Saturday and baseball fans at Oriole games this week.
Helping the Maryland campaign in its efforts is Munroe Holley, who is retired from Westinghouse Corp. and was a classmate of Mr. Perot's at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis.
Mr. Holley's personal goal is to collect 1 percent, or 635, of the signatures needed to put Mr. Perot on the ballot. So far, he has collected 599 signatures after canvassing Giant stores, flea markets and any "function I go to," he said.
Mr. Holley said he has not been in contact with Mr. Perot since they graduated in 1953, but his tenure at the Naval Academy -- including a stint as class president -- was enough to impress Mr. Holley.
"He was a very unusual type of individual," Mr. Holley recalled. "He was friendly and enthusiastic about everything he did. He was an excellent administrator. He got things done, and he made things happen for us. He always rated high in leadership."
Like other voters, Mr. Holley, 62, said he is disillusioned with career politicians.
"They've lost touch with the people," he said. "Our government is founded on 'we the people,' and we the people are trying to get us off in a new direction and change things."
Mr. Perot has said he will run for president as an independent candidate if supporters get him on the ballot in 50 states. He is currently on the ballot in Tennessee.