ROCKVILLE -- State Sen. Mary Boergers for governor of Maryland? Yes, said about 175 of her supporters last night.
Lawyers, business owners and others from her home territory of Montgomery County gathered at her first major fund-raiser, a $50-a-ticket affair at the stately Strathmore Hall Arts Center here.
Ms. Boergers, a Democrat, said her experience as a female legislator has prepared her for a bruising campaign, as well as for the governor's office itself.
"I want to be clear: I'm not running as a woman and I don't want anyone to vote for me because I'm a woman," she said. "I want to be judged on my record, ideas and priorities. At the same time, you have to be pretty tough as a woman to survive in politics and I've survived my share of skirmishes."
While she has not formally announced her intentions for 1994, she has hired a campaign manager and begun meeting with Democrats in other counties. As of last night, her campaign had raised $50,000, said campaign manager Jennifer Sosin.
Last night's fund-raiser, held in admittedly friendly territory, launches "the exploratory phase of the campaign," she said.
Senator Boergers, 47, served in the House from 1981 to 1990 before moving to the Senate. She has not conducted any polls to determine how much support for a gubernatorial candidacy exists. But she would have to improve her name recognition outside her home turf to become a serious contender.
This early in the campaign, she is considered a decided long shot. Other Democrats considered possible candidates for governor include Lt. Gov. Melvin A. Steinberg, Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr., Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, Prince George's County Executive Parris N. Glendening and former state health secretary Neil Solomon.
During the last legislative session, Senator Boergers received extensive media coverage for her opposition to the nomination of John S. Arnick to a Baltimore County judgeship. Mr. Arnick, who later withdrew his name from consideration, was accused by two women lobbyists of using sexist and racist language during a 1992 dinner meeting.