'Heavy hitters' plan Ecker fund-raiser Race for re-election may cost $150,000

June 23, 1993|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,Staff Writer

During his 1990 Howard County executive run, Charles I. Ecker advertised himself as a babe in the political woods.

"I'm not a politician," he liked to say.

Well, he's not a babe anymore. This morning, Mr. Ecker stepped into another league, charging a dozen out-of-county supporters $200 apiece to have breakfast with him at the Center Club in downtown Baltimore.

And that's only the beginning. The hosts, by Mr. Ecker's own reckoning, are "heavy hitters," which is a typical Ecker understatement.

Sponsoring the fete are H. Furlong Baldwin, chairman and chief executive officer of Mercantile Bankshares Corp.; Henry Rosenberg, chief executive officer of Crown Petroleum; and Charles E. "Ted" Peck, retired chairman and chief executive officer of Ryland Group Inc. They are three of the biggest political fund-raisers and business leaders in the state.

On opening day at Oriole Park at Camden Yards for example, Gov. William Donald Schaefer was among the guests dropping by Mr. Baldwin's luxury suite.

Mr. Ecker says the Baltimore breakfast is nothing more than a show of support for his re-election campaign. "I'm running for county executive," he said. "I'm not thinking about anything else."

Although he found it "very flattering" that some Republicans made overtures to him about running for governor, Mr. Ecker declined recently when invited to be included in a straw poll for potential GOP gubernatorial candidates.

This morning's breakfast is merely a show of appreciation for what local government has accomplished in Howard County, Mr. Ecker said. "Things are better in Howard County and [the breakfast hosts] thought the Baltimore business community ought to show its support."

The theme for his brief talk this morning is one that he has shared with local business executives on occasion: that economic development in Howard County is a priority, that the business community is vital and that the average taxpayer is subsidized by the business community.

In 1990, Mr. Ecker lent his campaign $30,000 in his successful run against Democratic incumbent Elizabeth Bobo.

After repaying the loan and other campaign expenses, he has $5,100 left for 1994. He estimates he will need $150,000 to win re-election.

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