Schaefer veterans lend considerable clout to new candidates 3 Democrats build campaign funds

October 28, 1993|By Robert Timberg and William F. Zorzi Jr. | Robert Timberg and William F. Zorzi Jr.,Staff Writers

Gov. William Donald Schaefer's much-chronicled hostility toward his second in command has not stopped many of his longtime political money men from raising campaign funds for Lt. Gov. Melvin A. Steinberg's 1994 gubernatorial candidacy.

"The money raisers are here," crowed lobbyist Alan M. Rifkin at a $500-a-ticket Steinberg fund-raiser Tuesday night at the Sheraton Inner Harbor Hotel.

"People are declaring themselves at this point," said Michael G. Bronfein, president and CEO of NeighborCare Pharmacies, who is Mr. Steinberg's campaign finance chairman. He predicted that receipts from the fund-raiser, estimated at $300,000, would put Mr. Steinberg over the $1 million mark.

Tuesday's event represented an impressive show of strength by Mr. Steinberg, though not necessarily a resounding endorsement the governor's longtime financial supporters.

Such people, most of them business executives and lobbyists, are known to keep a foot in more than one camp, either personally or through associates, until the political picture comes into clearer focus.

John Paterakis, bakery owner and developer, for example, said he was backing Mr. Steinberg and helped him peddle tickets, but would probably attend tonight's fund-raiser for another gubernatorial hopeful, Parris N. Glendening, the Prince George's County executive.

"When you're in business, you have to support all good candidates," said Mr. Paterakis, part of the core group of fund-raisers whose financial clout twice helped power Mr. Schaefer to the State House.

The governor has signaled his distaste for all three announced 1994 Democratic gubernatorial hopefuls -- Lieutenant Governor Steinberg, with whom he has been feuding for two years; Mr. Glendening, a critic of Mr. Schaefer's performance; and dark horse candidate Mary H. Boergers, a Montgomery County state senator.

If nothing else, the sight of Schaefer campaign veterans trooping into the dimly lighted hotel banquet room demonstrated that the governor's anger at Mr. Steinberg has not immobilized many of his longtime supporters.

Most took pains to say that their presence represented no disloyalty to the governor, merely affection and respect for Mr. Steinberg and a recognition that someone other than Mr. Schaefer will be the state's chief executive in little more than a year.

Although each presumably contributed generously themselves, the value of such supporters to a campaign comes from their ability to persuade others within their network of family, friends, acquaintances and business associates to do the same.

Despite the flexing of Mr. Steinberg's financial muscle on Tuesday, Mr. Glendening may well be ahead of the lieutenant governor in the pursuit of campaign funds. Both candidates are expected to top $1 million in receipts when campaign spending reports are filed Nov. 8.

The lieutenant governor's affair Tuesday kicked off a week in which all three Democratic candidates are seeking to swell their coffers by staging high-profile events before the reporting period ends Oct. 31.

"You always want to show as much strength as possible, and one way to do that is to show you've raised a significant amount of money," said Diane Reis, Mr. Steinberg's campaign press secretary.

Senator Boergers took center stage last night with a $125-a-ticket event in Rockville that drew about 120 supporters. Ms. Boergers has downplayed questions about her ability to raise money, saying, "This is an election, not an auction." Even so, she knows the political value of a credible showing in the fund-raising sweepstakes. She said last night that her campaign has raised "well over" the $100,000 goal she had set for the first four months of her campaign.

Mr. Glendening weighs in tonight with a major thrust into the Baltimore area with a $100-per-person event at the Walters Art Gallery. Ferrier Stillman, a campaign official, said about 300 backers are expected to attend.

The Prince George's executive has made earlier, less ambitious forays into the city and surrounding counties. But tonight's event, in addition to raising money, is designed to demonstrate the sweep of his support in the Baltimore metropolitan area.

The most strategically placed of the old Schaefer crowd Tuesday night was Baltimore attorney Robert S. Hillman, who chaired the event, orchestrated the fund-raising effort and greeted guests as they arrived. Mr. Hillman was Mr. Schaefer's chief fund-raiser in his 1986 and 1990 races.

"In Annapolis you need somebody in the governor's office who can bring some kind of consensus out of the various parochial interests in the state," said Mr. Hillman. "I think Mickey [Mr. Steinberg] has the experience to do that."

"I'm here supporting Mickey," said Henry A. Rosenberg Jr., chief executive of Crown Central Petroleum Corp., whose corporate jet ferried Mr. Schaefer to the National Football League's meeting this week. A longtime backer of the governor, Mr. Rosenberg said he was helping Mr. Steinberg raise money. "I would assume most of that [Schaefer] core group are involved," he said.

Other longtime Schaefer associates in attendance Tuesday night identified by campaign officials as assisting in the fund-raising effort included lobbyist Bruce C. Bereano; developer Henry J. Knott Jr.; and Willard Hackerman, president of the Whiting-Turner Contracting Co.

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