In this unusual political year, it makes sense that Ellen R. Sauerbrey is just now doing the furious fund raising most candidates do before an election.
Thanks to her decision to accept public financing, Mrs. Sauerbrey avoided the glad-handing that consumed countless hours for her opponent, Democrat Parris N. Glendening, during the general election.
These days, though, Mrs. Sauerbrey is working the phones and meeting with people to find enough money to pay for an expensive court challenge to Mr. Glendening's narrow victory, which she says was tainted by irregularities and possible fraud.
One campaign official said Mrs. Sauerbrey has raised about $300,000 to contest Mr. Glendening's victory -- nearly one-third of the sum she spent in the entire general election campaign.
The legal challenge could end up costing as much as $1.5 million, say people familiar with the effort.
One recent mailing asks contributors to send money "to help lTC verify the results of the recent election and protect the integrity of Free and Fair elections in Maryland."
Mrs. Sauerbrey told a group of supporters in Parkton last week: "The money is going to go very, very fast now that we're in court. We've got heavy legal bills."
Mrs. Sauerbrey's so-called Election Inquiry Fund has received several contributions of $10,000 and higher, including one from a political action committee controlled by Newt Gingrich, the new speaker of the U.S. House, and another from the Republican National Committee.
Lately, Mrs. Sauerbrey has been pushing a Jan. 13 fund-raiser featuring U.S. Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas, the new Senate majority leader.
"The tickets are $100. There will be a private reception with Bob Dole for $1,000, if anybody is feeling very flush," Mrs. Sauerbrey told the Parkton group last week. Organizers hope that Mr. Dole's visit will raise at least another $100,000 for the cause.
Mr. Glendening, who set a record for fund raising in a Maryland gubernatorial race by bringing in more than $5 million, has also continued soliciting money since the election.
First came a series of events that raised about $75,000 to keep the campaign office running. Mr. Glendening is now raising money for various inaugural events.
On top of that, his supporters must solicit the money needed to fend off Mrs. Sauerbrey.
"It will be much like the process that takes place during the campaign," said Charles F. Porcari, a spokesman for the Glendening transition team.
It's too early to tell how much the court fight will cost, he added.
The only given about Mrs. Sauerbrey's challenge is that a lot of money will be spent on lawyers on both sides of the case. For example, 16 attorneys put their names on motions filed last week -- and that was only on the Democrats' side.
TREASURER RACE HEATS UP
The race for state treasurer, to be decided by the incoming General Assembly, is starting to heat up.
At least two Democrats -- retiring state Del. John W. Douglass of Baltimore and newly re-elected Del. Richard N. Dixon of Carroll County -- are challenging Lucille Maurer, who has held the treasurer's job for two four-year terms.
Mrs. Maurer is still considered the favorite to win. But Mr. Douglass, who has been endorsed by the Legislative Black Caucus, has been campaigning aggressively.
He greeted newly elected legislators at an orientation session last month and has been distributing a flier with his face superimposed on an oversize dollar bill, with the slogan: "Your tax dollars will seem this large with Douglass as treasurer."
Mr. Dixon, a financial consultant with Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner and Smith for 25 years, has been citing his experience with stocks, bonds and other investment activities in letters sent to fellow legislators.