Boergers finds herself at the top of EMILY's List

June 02, 1994|By Michael A. Fletcher | Michael A. Fletcher,Sun Staff Writer

State Sen. Mary H. Boergers' long-shot campaign for governor got a major boost yesterday when she received the endorsement of EMILY's List, a political fund-raising group that has funneled millions of dollars to women Democratic candidates across the country.

The endorsement could pay off in hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions for Ms. Boergers. It also provides instant credibility to her candidacy, which has doggedly forged ahead amid criticism that she is unelectable because she is little known beyond her legislative district in Montgomery County.

"We are confident that Mary Boergers has what it takes to win," said Ellen R. Malcolm, founder and president of EMILY's List. "The race here is wide open, and voters still want to hear what the candidates have to say."

Ms. Boergers, who has raised about $500,000 for her campaign -- far less than the perceived front-runners -- said the endorsement will allow her to tap into fund-raising streams that otherwise would have been closed to her. She has set a fund-raising goal of $2 million.

"Oh, this absolutely helps," she said, "because they are so rigorous in selecting candidates to support. It is clear that they carefully looked at the campaign and made the determination that it is very winnable. One of the truisms of politics is that you have to be perceived as viable to get support."

EMILY's List -- EMILY is an acronym for Early Money Is Like Yeast (it makes the dough rise) -- has 31,000 members who have pledged to give at least $100 donations to some of the candidates recommended by the group. Its goal is to increase the number of women Democrats in elective office. The group

only backs candidates who support abortion rights.

Ms. Boergers, 48, will be among six to eight candidates from around the country who are recommended to EMILY's List members in a newsletter to be mailed next month, said Tricia Primrose, a spokeswoman for the group.

It is difficult to predict how much money the endorsement will draw to the campaign. But if history is a guide, the amount could be substantial.

In 1992, when EMILY's List had 24,000 members, the organization raised $6.2 million for 55 women candidates for U.S. House and Sen

ate seats. Twenty-three of those candidates were elected to Congress.

"It's impossible to tell what this will mean in terms of money," Ms. Boergers said. "But it would be impossible to raise money nationally without their support. All of the donors out there use EMILY's List as a litmus test."

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