With $600,000, Sarbanes is leading in dollar count

February 01, 1994|By John B. O'Donnell | John B. O'Donnell,Washington Bureau of The Sun

WASHINGTON -- With Republicans lining up to take a shot at him, Maryland Democratic Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes entered this campaign year with nearly $600,000 in his re-election treasury, far more than his GOP rivals.

In a Federal Election Commission (FEC) report released yesterday, Mr. Sarbanes said he had raised $296,000 during the last six months of 1993, including $169,000 in individual contributions -- most from outside Maryland -- and about $127,000 from 93 special interest political action committees, more than half of them affiliated either with labor unions or industries that come under the purview of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.

Mr. Sarbanes is in line next year to become chairman of the committee, which has jurisdiction over Wall Street, the banking industry, the Federal Reserve and U.S. urban and housing policy, if he is re-elected and Democrats retain control of the Senate.

A half-dozen Republicans have said they plan to run against Mr. Sarbanes, but only three, Ruthann Aron, a Montgomery County lawyer, developer and member of the National Capital Parks and Planning Commission; state Del. C. Ronald Franks, a Grasonville dentist; and former Tenn. Sen. William E. Brock, have registered as candidates with the Federal Election Commission.

Ms. Aron reported raising $44,000 between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31 and lending her campaign an additional $10,000.

Mr. Franks reported raising nearly $46,000 in the last six months of 1993. Mr. Brock filed as an FEC candidate in early January and said his first campaign finance report will be filed in April.

With polls suggesting that Mr. Sarbanes is vulnerable to a strong challenge, Maryland Republicans spent much of 1993 looking for a heavyweight candidate to take him on, and many GOP operatives have settled on Mr. Brock, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee and high-level Reagan administration official, as their best hope. With extensive Republican Party contacts and a personal fortune, the Brock Candy Co. heir, who lives in Annapolis, is considered capable of raising the funds needed for a statewide challenge to Mr. Sarbanes.

Maryland's other U.S. senator, Barbara A. Mikulski, spent $3.million on her re-election bid in 1992, more than double what Mr. Sarbanes spent in 1988, and many politicians believe that at least $3 million will be needed this year.

Mr. Franks said last week that he hopes to raise $800,000 for the GOP primary and then another $2.3 million for the general election should he win the primary.

Ms. Aron expresses confidence that she can raise $3 million. She says she raised nearly $40,000 at a single $500-a-ticket breakfast in December. She also appears capable of putting a considerable amount of her own money into a campaign.

She and her husband, Barry Aron, a urologist who is outgoing president of the medical staff at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, have publicly traded assets, mostly stocks and mutual funds, worth between $1.6 million and $4.4 million, according to a financial disclosure form that Ms. Aron has filed with the Senate.

Mr. Sarbanes, who is not wealthy, has expressed confidence that he will be able to raise the funds necessary to win re-election. Unlike some senators, he does not raise funds throughout his six-year term, waiting until the last two years.

He began 1993 with $13,000 in his campaign treasury. Most of the money he raised last year came from out-of-state individual contributions, many of them Greek-Americans supporting a senator of Greek ancestry, and political action committees.

In the last six months of 1993, he received $37,000 in small individual contributions whose donations do not have to be identified under federal election law.

An additional $132,000 came in 264 individual contributions of more than $200 -- and the identify of those donors must be disclosed.

Almost 200 of those donations came from out-of-state sources, many from the nationwide Greek community that heavily supports the only Greek-American in the U.S. Senate. Marylanders gave him 68 donations totaling just under $43,000.

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