Foes undaunted by Ecker's treasury

August 18, 1994|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,Sun Staff Writer

The two Democratic candidates hoping to unseat County Executive Charles I. Ecker this fall said yesterday that they are undaunted by the large amount of money he has raised.

The $110,970 Mr. Ecker collected over the last nine months -- $218,652 overall in the four years since the last election -- is "about what I expected," said former Democratic Central Committee chairwoman Sue-Ellen Hantman.

Ms. Hantman, who entered the executive race in late June, has raised $7,788 the last two months, including a $2,000 gift from her husband and a $100 contribution from her parents.

"I'm continuing my efforts," she said, despite an upper respiratory infection that has caused her to limit her campaigning the last two weeks.

When Ms. Hantman entered the race, it appeared that she would be her party's standard-bearer against Mr. Ecker in November and wouldn't need money for a primary campaign.

But slow-growth advocate Susan B. Gray forced a primary race, filing minutes before the deadline July 5.

Ms. Gray, who long has faulted what she perceives as Mr. Ecker's ties to business and developers, was no less critical yesterday as she discussed his campaign finance report.

"It shows that the special interests are trying to buy Howard County," Ms. Gray said. "The question is whether people at the grass roots level can get out and get their neighbors out [to vote a change in government] or whether they're willing to see this county bought."

Ms. Gray's report shows revenues of $5,715, including a $3,000 loan from her husband. She has $1,222 left for her primary battle, compared with Ms. Hantman's $6,682.

Mr. Ecker would not comment on the comparatively paltry sum his competitors have raised, preferring to talk instead about his own report. "The number and variety of people who have contributed to my campaign is amazing," he said. "I think it

shows people appreciate good government and want to see me re- elected."

Political observers will find little of interest in either Ms. Gray's or Ms. Hantman's report. No contributor stands out with the possible exception of Margaret Rutter, mother of county planning and zoning director Joseph W. Rutter Jr.

Ms. Rutter, who is a member of the county Board of Appeals, gave $50 to Ms. Hantman's campaign. Ms. Hantman also received several individual contributions of $250 from lawyers she once worked with when serving as a prosecutor in the state's attorney's office.

Ms. Gray's largest contribution was $200 from Michael B. Goldstein of Washington. She hasspent $1,969 for 2,500 signs and $677 on posts for signs. She also reported that she was given "meat, food and water in the amount of $215" for her square dance fund-raiser.

Mr. Ecker's report shows that in June alone he received $6,000 in free food and drinks at two Ellicott City fund-raisers -- $2,000 from the Crab Shanty restaurant one week and $4,000 from Tersiguel's restaurant the next.

In addition, Hunan Manor restaurant of Columbia gave Mr. Ecker $700 in cash and a $50 donation for a prize in Mr. Ecker's golf tournament fund-raiser.

Those attending were charged $199.94 each, an amount pegged to the candidate's "Ecker in 1994" campaign theme.

Among the contributors to the golfing fund-raiser were Jon and Gloria Files. Mr. Files was campaign manager for former executive M. Elizabeth Bobo when she ran against Mr. Ecker in 1990.

Goodier Builders was Mr. Ecker's largest contributor, giving the executive $3,400 -- $600 below the maximum allowed from a single contributor. Among those who gave him $1,000 each were builder Harry Lundy Jr.; Baltimore developer James Knott; Mary Gould, wife of developer Kingdon Gould; and developer Howard Harrison and his wife Kathleen.

Mr. Ecker also received $1,200 from Eyer Bus Service and $1,398 from the county's two cable television franchises -- $999 from Comcast and $399 from Mid-Atlantic.

Mr. Ecker spent $1,951 on a computer and software, $5,950 on a pair of cable television commercials and $10,500 on polling services. He has also been spending $500 a month for political advice and campaign oversight from Hugh J. Forton, former executive secretary to the County Council.

After expenses, Mr. Ecker still has $91,316 in the bank and continues to receive contributions on an almost daily basis.

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