GOP women form PAC to back pro-business female candidates

THE POLITICAL GAME

January 26, 1994|By Robert Timberg | Robert Timberg,Staff Writer

In 1930, Lulu Wilson Boucher, an Allegany County schoolteacher, became the first Republican woman elected to the Maryland General Assembly. She served in the House of Delegates for 15 years.

Today, 64 years later, GOP women hold five seats in the 188-member state legislature, all in the House. Of six county executives in the state only one, Harford's Eileen M. Rehrmann, is a woman, and she's a Democrat. Female Republicans occupy 21 of 216 elected county posts around the state.

Not good enough, says a group of GOP professional women who have banded together to form a new political action committee known as Join RSVP (Republicans to Secure Victory in Public Office Inc.)

At a kickoff news conference in Annapolis Monday, Rebecca L. Besson, who chairs the group, explained its mission. Party and gender, it seems, will get a candidate in the door, but she'll leave empty-handed if she doesn't have a pro-business bent.

"We will be supporting responsible women leaders who are committed to providing an environment conducive to economic growth and jobs in the private sector," said Ms. Besson, who heads Baltimore's Delta Chemical Corp. "This is only the beginning of what we hope will be a catalyst to encourage more pro-business women to run for public office."

The organization has registered with the state election board as a political action committee. Under state law, a PAC may contribute up to $6,000 to a candidate during the four-year election cycle.

RSVP leaders say they have raised $10,000 in seed money through individual and corporate contributions, which are legal in state elections, and that they hope to have $100,000 for distribution to candidates by September.

The news conference drew many of the state GOP's leading women, including gubernatorial candidates Helen Delich Bentley, the 2nd District congresswoman, and Ellen R. Sauerbrey, the House of Delegates minority leader.

Carolyn T. Burridge, a chemical industry lobbyist in Annapolis, helped put the organization together and was to have served on the board of directors.

Though she could legally have done so, she said she decided against it to avoid creating confusion or misperceptions about the group's mission, which is to elect candidates, not lobby them.

Comings and goings

State Sen. Mary H. Boergers, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate, has hired a new campaign manager, Kevin Keefe, to replace Jennifer Sosin, who resigned in December because of unanticipated family obligations.

Mr. Keefe, 35, had been working for the Keefe Co., one of Washington's most influential lobbying companies. It's headed by his father, veteran Washington hand Robert J. Keefe.

The younger Mr. Keefe has run a number of campaigns, according to Boergers campaign spokeswoman Claire R. Hassett, most recently the successful long-shot congressional bid of Stephen L. Neal in Winston-Salem, N.C., in 1992.

One of Ms. Boergers' Democratic rivals, Prince George's County Executive Parris N. Glendening, is looking for a new campaign press secretary in the wake of Brian Morton's abrupt departure two weeks ago after little more than a month on the job.

On reporting to work Dec. 1, Mr. Morton was reunited with Emily Smith, who had just taken over as Mr. Glendening's campaign manager. Ms. Smith and Mr. Morton had worked together in similar posts in the 1992 Clinton-Gore campaign.

Mr. Morton would say only, "We parted ways. Emily and I are still good friends. I still believe in Parris Glendening." Said Ms. Smith, "It just didn't work out."

Mr. Morton, 32, left his job as Baltimore Rep. Kweisi Mfume's press spokesman to join the Glendening operation.

In another statewide race, recently retired Marine Lt. Col. Ralph C. "Rocky" Rosacker has joined Republican William E. Brock's senatorial campaign staff as a regional field coordinator.

Oops

Last week's column noted that state Sen. Julian L. Lapides, effectively deprived of his political base through redistricting, might move to his mother-in-law's home in Mount Vernon. Actually, the home is in Mount Washington.

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