Aron and Brock lend their campaigns hundreds of thousands of own money CAMPAIGN 1994

September 03, 1994|By Nelson Schwartz | Nelson Schwartz,Contributing Writer

WASHINGTON -- Republican Senate candidates in Maryland continued to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars of their own money this summer in their bids to capture their party's nomination and unseat Democratic Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes in November, according to federal election reports made public this week.

Ruthann Aron, a Montgomery County developer, lent her campaign $138,000 between July 1 and Aug. 24. Her rival Bill Brock lent his election drive $100,000 in the same period.

Mr. Brock led all candidates in both contributions and spending during July and August. He raised more than $286,000 and spent more than $390,000, much of it for TV ads and a direct-mail effort to boost his name recognition in Maryland. So far this year, he has spent more than $1.2 million.

Mr. Brock, who stands to receive about $6 million from the planned sale of his family's candy company, has lent his campaign $490,000 this year.

"Running campaigns is very expensive," said Erin O'Brien, press secretary for the Brock campaign. Ms. O'Brien said the campaign has raised several hundred thousand dollars since the period covered in yesterday's report.

Mrs. Aron's campaign manager, Craig Estey, said "$138,000 is a lot of money for anybody, but Ruthann has stated before that she is committed to winning this race and will do whatever it takes."

Mrs. Aron, who has tried to make an issue of Mr. Brock's family wealth, has so far this year lent her campaign $258,000. In July and August, Mrs. Aron, who, like Mr. Brock, is a millionaire, received $85,853 in campaign contributions and spent more than $108,000.

A third candidate, Del. C. Ronald Franks, raised $19,760 and spent $16,780 during the period covered by yesterday's filing. Mr. Franks made no loans to his campaign.

Mr. Sarbanes also lent no money to his campaign, according to the report. But, of the $197,613 the Baltimore Democrat received in July and August, more than 40 percent came in donations from fund-raising organizations, including political action committees. PACs have long been criticized by advocates of campaign finance reform as ways in which special interest groups can influence members of Congress.

Mr. Sarbanes supports legislation to restrict PAC donations. But his campaign manager, Michael Davis, said, "We are not going to unilaterally disarm. We are going to play by the rules as they exist."

In a slap at Mrs. Aron and Mr. Brock, Mr. Davis added, "Unlike his potential opponents, [Mr. Sarbanes] cannot write six-figure checks to self-fund his campaign."

Mr. Sarbanes, who faces token opposition in the Democratic primary, remains in a strong position in campaign finances, having raised $1.04 million this year and having more than $1.18 million on hand.

Mr. Davis said the Sarbanes campaign would step up its advertising after the Sept. 13 primary. "We'll spend a lot of money," he said. "We've conserved our money up till now but we expect to spend what we've raised."

Despite the money being spent by the Republican candidates, Mr. Sarbanes still enjoys a lead of more than 20 percentage points over any of his potential Republican challengers, according to the latest poll by Mason-Dixon Political Media Research in Columbia.

The survey detected a wide-open Republican primary race, with Mr. Brock leading with 23 percent support, followed by Mrs. Aron with 20 percent and Mr. Franks with 14 percent.

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