Murphy ends her bid for county executive

June 25, 1994|By Pat Gilbert | Pat Gilbert,Sun Staff Writer

Sen. Nancy L. Murphy, who was the first Democrat to announce formally for the Baltimore County executive race, became the first to withdraw yesterday.

Unable to raise enough money and disappointed at not getting key endorsements, the Catonsville legislator said she will run again for the Senate in the redrawn 12th Legislative District.

"I gave it my best effort," Mrs. Murphy said. "But I took a reality check and realized it was impossible to raise the amount of funds necessary to run an effective campaign."

Mrs. Murphy said she needed about $500,000 to mount a challenge to Republican County Executive Roger B. Hayden. She said she wasn't sure how much her campaign had raised, but other sources indicated it was about $100,000.

"I had a lot of wonderful supporters who shared with me the mission of putting Baltimore County back together," Mrs. Murphy said. "I'm not afraid to face the truth, and I didn't want to continue on a fruitless mission and take those supporters and workers with me."

County politicians said her withdrawal should help two other Democratic candidates: Charles A. Dutch Ruppersberger III, a county councilman and the acknowledged front-runner; and former District Judge John C. Coolahan, who once held the Senate seat Mrs. Murphy now occupies.

Councilman Melvin G. Mintz of Pikesville and Kevin Pearl, a disciple of Lyndon LaRouche, are the other Democrats in the race.

Mrs. Murphy announced her candidacy in January and held one major fund-raiser in March. But she failed to win several important endorsements that would have helped her raise more money.

Those endorsements -- from the the Fraternal Order of Police, the Teachers' Association of Baltimore County and the Battle Grove Democratic Club in Dundalk -- all went to Mr. Ruppersberger.

Mrs. Murphy and Mr. Ruppersberger were fighting particularly hard for support on the east side of the county, a major battleground because of its heavy Democratic turnout and lack of a favorite son candidate this year.

"We think her decision has clearly left Dutch as the Eastside candidate, and we expect some endorsements soon from several elected officials there to reinforce that position," said Bob Barrett, Mr. Ruppersberger's campaign manager. Because of a death in the family, Mr. Ruppersberger was unavailable for comment, Mr. Barrett said.

Some Eastside politicians who originally leaned toward Mrs. Murphy began expressing concern privately about her ability to win the primary after Mr. Coolahan entered the race in May.

"I'm pleased that we both won't be out here splitting up the

support in the the same home district," said Mr. Coolahan. "Obviously, this enhances my chances and strengthens my hold on second place in this race."

Mr. Coolahan said he has been talking with Eastside officials and now expects to get at least some support there.

Mr. Mintz said the Murphy withdrawal helps him, too.

"I think it opens up the opportunity to reach voters on the southwest side that I wouldn't have had, and since Nancy and I shared the same views on many issues -- such as those affecting women and the disabled -- I would pick up support there as well," Mr. Mintz said.

Kevin Kamenetz, county Democratic Party chairman, said he thinks the Murphy support will be split among the major contenders.

Rumors of Mrs. Murphy's departure from the race gained momentum this week and were virtually confirmed when her second fund-raiser, scheduled for Thursday, was canceled at the last moment. Mr. Coolahan held a $250-a-ticket affair at Minnick's Restaurant in Dundalk that night.

By virtue of incumbency, Mrs. Murphy now becomes the front-runner for the 12th District Democratic Senate nomination. The district's boundaries were changed after the 1990 census, putting about a third of the district in Howard County and putting part of the old district into the 47th District, which is mainly in Baltimore.

Democratic candidates for the 12th District seat are Edward J. Kasemeyer, a former delegate and senator from Howard County, Tom Booth, a Catonsville businessman, and Frances K. Ingram.

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