Steinberg fund-raiser brings him $100,000 CAMPAIGN 1994 -- THE RACE FOR GOVERNOR

June 28, 1994|By Robert Timberg and William F. Zorzi Jr. | Robert Timberg and William F. Zorzi Jr.,Sun Staff Writers

Lt. Gov. Melvin A. Steinberg raised more than $100,000 at a Baltimore area fund-raiser last night, but an effort to engineer a heavy turnout of state legislators supporting his bid for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination fizzled.

Instead, there was only a modest sprinkling of Maryland General Assembly members amid the several hundred people who paid $100 a ticket to show their backing of Mr. Steinberg and to help fuel his campaign.

Several of those in the crowd said they had hoped Mr. Steinberg would announce at the affair that former Rep. Tom McMillen had agreed to be his running mate, but no announcement was forthcoming.

Meanwhile, two of the men Steinberg aides have identified as being on the short list of prospective running mates were attending another fund-raiser at Pimlico Race Course for Clarence W. Blount, D-Baltimore, the Maryland Senate majority leader and a key Steinberg supporter.

One of the two apparent prospects, Bishop L. Robinson, the state's public safety secretary and former Baltimore police commissioner, said at the Blount affair that he had no intention of TTC running for lieutenant governor.

The other prospect, state Sen. James C. Simpson of Southern Maryland, said he was under the impression after a three-hour meeting last Monday that Mr. Steinberg had offered him the No. 2 spot. He said he was considering the offer when he read in newspapers Friday that the spot had been offered to Mr. McMillen.

"It's his choice," Mr. Simpson said. "I don't have a problem, I just wish the hell someone would tell me what's going on."

Mr. McMillen was out of the state and could not be reached for comment. He confirmed Friday that he had been offered the second spot on the ticket.

Gubernatorial candidates must decide on their running mates no later than 9 p.m. July 5, the state election board's filing deadline.

Michael G. Bronfein, Mr. Steinberg's chief fund-raiser, said he expected the event at Martin's West to gross about $120,000.

To date, Mr. Bronfein said, the campaign has raised about $1.8 million. "We're very comfortable," he said.

The legislators who showed up at Mr. Steinberg's event praised his state government experience and fiscal conservatism.

Earlier this month, Dennis C. Donaldson, Mr. Steinberg's political director, wrote to Democratic members of the General Assembly, saying, "The time has come for those of us supporting [Mr. Steinberg] to stand up with him."

In a June 16 letter on Steinberg campaign stationery, Mr. Donaldson used all capitals to impress lawmakers with the importance of last night's event: "WE WANT YOU THERE." He said Mr. Steinberg "will request that you and the other elected officials stand together with him for a photo session showing your endorsement for his candidacy."

According to a list provided by Steinberg aides and read to the crowd by state Sen. Thomas P. O'Reilly, D-Prince George's, there were three senators present other than Mr. O'Reilly and about 10 members of the House of Delegates. No group photo session was attempted.

Mr. O'Reilly said there were several other legislators backing Mr. Steinberg. There are 38 Democratic senators, including two running against Mr. Steinberg for the Democratic nomination for governor, and 116 Democratic House members.

Said Mr. Donaldson, "It's a weeknight and other events are going on. I think we had a good showing."

Mr. Steinberg said he did not authorize the letter. "Denny did it," he said, meaning Mr. Donaldson. "I did it," said Mr. Donaldson, who was standing a few feet away.

Mr. Steinberg angrily insisted that it would be inaccurate to say he was disavowing the letter.

"The man is my political director, and he has the right to do it," Mr. Steinberg said, "More importantly, he's my friend, and the day he does everything right they'll be floating up in heaven with wings. He's a human being."

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