Anti-Hayden sentiment flavors fund-raiser for Ruppersberger

April 01, 1994|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Sun Staff Writer

Baltimore County Executive Roger B. Hayden's dramatic upset victory in 1990 and his often painful budget cuts created a thirst for revenge among county Democrats.

Some of that feeling was displayed this week at a $250 breakfast fund-raiser at Timonium Fairgrounds held by County Councilman Charles A. Dutch Ruppersberger -- one of five possible Democratic candidates for county executive.

Two wealthy Democratic fund-raisers made clear their dual motives in promoting Mr. Ruppersberger.

"It will be my extreme pleasure to watch Roger Hayden walk out the door," Edwin F. Hale Sr., millionaire trucking company executive and banker, told the partisan crowd of more than 150 lawyers, developers and business managers. Mr. Hale, who was host for the event, is a close friend of former Executive Dennis F. Rasmussen, whom Mr. Hayden defeated and who attended the fund-raiser.

Mr. Hale said afterward he remembers the day in June 1990 when Mr. Rasmussen asked what he knew about "a guy named Roger Hayden" who had filed as a Republican. "I told him, 'Don't worry about him. I wouldn't hire that guy to run my warehouse,' " Mr. Hale said.

After more than three years of living with his missed prediction and helping find jobs for several Rasmussen administration workers Mr. Hayden laid off or demoted, Mr. Hale is ready for a change in county government.

Mr. Hayden earned the enmity of county employees and others when the recession and state budget cuts led him to lay off several hundred county workers last year, close nine libraries and four senior centers, and deny county workers pay raises for three years.

Mr. Hale said his comment about the desired departure of Mr. Hayden was not personal, but meant he feels the executive is a poor leader and hasn't helped economic development.

"Right now, this place is going nowhere," he said. "I like Dutch's style. He's a very sharp guy."

Mr. Hayden later defended his economic development efforts. "People ought to do their homework before they make comments," he said.

He said he helped create a long-term economic development plan and has shortened processing for new developments from 18 to 24 months to less than eight months.

Hanan Y. "Bean" Sibel, another businessman who heads the Ruppersberger campaign finance committee, told the crowd he backs Mr. Ruppersberger not only for his qualifications, but because he wants "an alternative to the current management in Baltimore County."

Both Mr. Sibel and Mr. Hale said Mr. Ruppersberger's nine years on the County Council and his previous experience as a county prosecutor make him by far the best candidate.

A few of those attending the breakfast were veterans of previous campaigns. P. David Hutchinson, older brother of former Executive Donald P. Hutchinson, stood out among the pin-striped suit crowd in his bright yellow sports jacket. He's helping organize for Mr. Ruppersberger on the county's east side, a campaign official said. Donald Diffenderffer, a campaign worker for Thomas B. Kernan's unsuccessful campaign in 1986, also is working for the Ruppersberger campaign.

Most of the candidates are organizing behind the scenes, raising money and getting ready to begin public campaigns next month. Of the Democrats, only state Sen. Nancy L. Murphy of Catonsville has declared her candidacy formally.

Mr. Ruppersberger has been campaigning quietly and raising money for months. He plans a formal announcement April 25. Other potential candidates include Councilman Melvin G. Mintz, who represents Pikesville-Randallstown; District Judge John C. Coolahan, who retires from the bench May 9; and Del. Joseph Bartenfelder of Fullerton.

Mr. Ruppersberger's campaign strategy -- similar to that of other Democrats vying for the nomination -- is to win big in his home area and to at least run well in other sections -- especially in Pikesville-Randallstown.

That's vital to Mr. Ruppersberger because his north County Council district has only 31,188 registered Democrats, compared with 46,146 in Mr. Mintz's district.

Mr. Sibel said that Wednesday's breakfast raised $45,000, helping put his candidate about halfway toward the $400,000 he plans to spend on the September primary.

Another Ruppersberger fund-raiser, at $100 a ticket, is set for June 9 at Timonium. Senator Murphy had a $100-a-ticket fund-raiser last night at Martin's West in Woodlawn.

Mr. Hayden so far faces opposition only from Donald Brewer, a county worker laid off in one of his budget cuts. The executive is planning a $50-a-ticket affair Wednesday at Timonium.

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