Loser lampoons victor's big spending on Senate race in 46th

September 18, 1994|By Robert A. Erlandson | Robert A. Erlandson,Sun Staff Writer

Democratic Senator-elect Perry Sfikas spent more money to win his new seat than he will earn in his four-year term in Annapolis "and it makes my blood boil," one of his erstwhile opponents declared yesterday.

Legislators earn $28,000 a year, and Mr. Sfikas, 38, a first-term City Councilman, spent $122,088 in his vigorous campaign for the 46th District Senate seat representing southeast Baltimore and part of Dundalk, said Thomas Siemek, 80, who ran a distant third in last week's primary.

That translates to $16.23 a vote, "and that is ridiculous; he's going to work for four years without pay," said Mr. Siemek, a former state delegate from Gardenville.

Spending to win public office has reached absurd levels, and strict limits should be imposed, said the retired State employee. A local district campaign should cost no more than $30,000, he said.

Mr. Sfikas agreed with Mr. Siemek about runaway spending and said he "wholeheartedly supports" public financing of campaigns and term limits for office-holders.

Mr. Siemek said he was so upset at his own 650-vote showing that he took a $200 ad on The Sun's back page yesterday to offer a sarcastic "Formula for obtaining a State Senate seat as of Sept. 13, 1994."

The ad, which named no names, but for those who follow local politics had Mr. Sfikas as its unmistakable target, gave these ingredients:

1. File for the state Senate.

2. Get endorsement of a U.S. senator and a former state senator.

3. Have a committee that raises and spends $122,088 to get 7,521 votes at $16.23 per vote.

4. Then claim victory for being a successful candidate.

Mr. Sfikas said, "In a political democracy people are allowed to place whatever ads they want in a newspaper, and God bless Mr. Siemek for it. I'm just appreciative of the people who came out and supported me."

Mr. Sfikas won with 7,521 votes to 3,917 for Del. Anthony M. DiPietro, Jr. and 650 votes for Mr. Siemek, a state delegate from 1942 to 1946. With no Republican candidates, Mr. Sfikas's primary victory guaranteed his election.

"I had no motive for doing it [the ad] except self-esteem. People asked me why I wasn't on any tickets, and I told them I couldn't afford it," Mr. Siemek said.

The 46th District seat opened when state Sen. American Joe Miedusiewski quit to make his unsuccessful gubernatorial bid.

Mr. Siemek said he entered the race only because he thought Mr. Sfikas would be unopposed in the Democratic primary.

"I didn't want him to have a free ride," Mr. Siemek said, "Mr. DiPietro filed after me, and if I had known he was going to run, I wouldn't have."

He said he spent about $3,000 on his campaign, mostly for fliers.

Mr. Sfikas said most of his campaign treasury came from several fund-raisers and from small contributions from "the middle-class voters" of the district. "There was less than $3,000 from PACs in my first report," he said.

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