Miedusiewski nearing $150,000 mark where he can get state matching funds

June 18, 1994|By Robert Timberg and William F. Zorzi Jr. | Robert Timberg and William F. Zorzi Jr.,Sun Staff Writers

American Joe Miedusiewski's campaign for the Democratic nomination for governor will soon qualify for at least $75,000 in state matching funds, the Baltimore senator said yesterday.

Mr. Miedusiewski said his campaign is about $20,000 short of the $150,000 in qualifying contributions needed to obtain the funds, but he predicted that he would cross the threshold at a $30-a-person fund-raiser today at the Timonium Fair Grounds or at a June 28 reception in downtown Baltimore, for which tickets cost $500.

He said he was leaning toward accepting matching funds, but that he had not yet made a firm decision. Candidates who accept public funding can receive as much as $340,000 for their primary campaigns, but must agree to hold spending to slightly less than $1 million.

Mr. Miedusiewski becomes the third candidate in the race to express interest in obtaining public funding. Ellen R. Sauerbrey, the Republican leader of the Maryland House, is said to have raised more than enough to qualify.

William S. Shepard, a retired foreign service officer and the GOP's losing candidate for governor four years ago, said he hopes to qualify, but is not sure he will reach the threshold.

To receive matching funds, candidates must raise at least $150,000 in qualifying contributions from individuals -- not corporations or political actions committees. Counted toward the total are contributions of $250 or less, or the first $250 of larger donations. Eligible candidates who chose to accept the spending restrictions receive $1 for every $2 raised in qualifying donations.

Mr. Miedusiewski, meanwhile, has been stepping up his effort to bedevil his better-known opponents.

Yesterday, he urged Lt. Gov. Melvin A. Steinberg to drop out of the Democratic race and throw his support to him.

In an open letter to Mr. Steinberg delivered to news organizations, Mr. Miedusiewski -- who has been waging a game, dark-horse campaign for the nomination -- portrayed the lieutenant governor as an over-the-hill politico whose best days have come and gone.

"Your campaign is in disarray and you are living in the past," said Mr. Miedusiewski, who further claimed that perceived weaknesses in Mr. Steinberg's campaign performance have permitted Parris N. Glendening, the Prince George' County executive, to significantly increase his popularity among potential voters.

Repeating his standard charge that Mr. Glendening has made campaign promises he cannot keep, the Baltimore lawmaker said, "Only one of us can stop this travesty. I urge you to withdraw from the race and support my candidacy."

Dan Walter, Mr. Steinberg's campaign spokesman, declined comment on the Miedusiewski letter.

Earlier in the week, Mr. Miedusiewski unleashed a provocative radio ad campaign that attacks the alliance between Mr. Glendening, whom many view as the Democratic front-runner, and Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke.

A 60-second radio ad, which began airing on Baltimore area stations Wednesday, drips with sarcasm as it suggests that the Glendening-Schmoke alliance (dubbed "The Love Team" in the spots) is an unholy one.

The spot -- featuring a mock version of the theme music from "The Love Boat" in the background -- points out that with Mr. Schmoke at the helm, Baltimore has the worst violent crime rate in the state, as well as the worst education record on Maryland's performance tests for students.

Under Mr. Glendening, Prince George's County has the distinction of being the second worst of the state's 24 jurisdictions in the same two categories, the ad notes.

"They're perfect together," the announcer says.

A voice that is supposed to sound like Mr. Schmoke's then asks, "Parris, how are you going to pay for all those promises?" -- a question Mr. Miedusiewski has been slamming to Mr. Glendening in recent candidate forums.

A mock-Glendening voice, in a stage whisper, responds: "We'll just raise taxes, Kurt. But don't tell anybody."

The ad, produced by Politics Inc. of Washington, is the first of three that will air four to six times daily on more than two dozen radio stations statewide in the next month, Mr. Miedusiewski said.

David Seldin, Mr. Glendening's campaign press secretary, acknowledged that the crime rankings of the two jurisdictions were based on fact.

"We've never said Prince George's County is perfect," Mr. Seldin said. "Parris Glendening has governed under difficult circumstances through tough times and made a real difference."

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