Fading Keyes loses major source of GOP funding

October 10, 1992|By C. Fraser Smith | C. Fraser Smith,Staff Writer

With his standing in the polls low and slipping, U.S. Senate candidate Alan L. Keyes got more bad news yesterday when a major source of campaign financing decided to use its money in more "winnable" races.

In a letter the Keyes campaign released yesterday without comment, the candidate was told by the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee that he would get none of the approximately $400,000 he was eligible to be given under Federal Election Commission guidelines.

Mr. Keyes faces first-term incumbent Democrat Barbara A. Mikulski.

"We have to make a determination with our donors' money about races that are winnable," said Wendy Burnley, communications director for the committee that will dispense about $16 million to GOP candidates in 35 Senate races across the country this year. "A standard of viability has to be applied," she said.

Mr. Keyes, who has been at odds with his party over a number of issues, had no immediate comment on the committee's decision, which could sharply limit his campaign's ability to carry on its fight.

He has been outspokenly critical of his party in the past, most recently when it seemed about to deny him a prominent speaking role at the GOP convention in Houston. He ultimately made two brief speeches and was accorded considerable praise.

That performance meant little in the decision about campaign financing, however.

An initial grant of $17,500 in "seed" money was given to Mr. Keyes during the summer, but additional funding was made contingent on the campaign's success in accumulating cash for the final push. Though the campaign has raised more than $1.2 million over the course of the campaign, Mr. Keyes fell far short in the cash-on-hand category. Ms. Burnley said Mr. Keyes was informed during the summer that he would have to have about $300,000 on hand by early September.

At that point, the Republican challenger had only a fraction of that amount -- as little as $30,000, according to a knowledgeable source.

Without saying how much was available now, Mr. Keyes' spokesman, Sean Paige, confirmed that the campaign had not met the committee's requirements.

Ms. Burnley said cash on hand is a "good predictor of success" because the ability to raise money indicates a candidate's ability to attract votes.

The committee's decision came a day after bad news in the polls.

Mason-Dixon Survey Research of Columbia said its recent survey showed Ms. Mikulski leading Mr. Keyes 64 percent to 26 percent, with 10 percent undecided.

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