$1,000 givers lead donations to Glendening's re-election bid Sauerbrey's donors are local, give smaller amounts

November 13, 1997|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,SUN STAFF Sun Electronic News Editor Michael Himowitz and staff writers William F. Zorzi Jr. and C. Fraser Smith contributed to this article.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening's donor list for next year's election is anchored by $1,000 givers, businesses and out-of-state residents, while Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey is drawing on a broad base of small-sum Maryland contributors, a Sun analysis of campaign finance reports has found.

Meanwhile, Harford County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann is relying heavily on supporters from her home county -- and from businesses statewide -- in her Democratic primary challenge to Glendening.

For the first time, candidates for governor were required to submit information on computer disks when they filed their campaign financing reports with the state election board this week, making it easier to analyze each candidate's contributions.

Glendening has raised $2.1 million for his re-election bid, while Sauerbrey has reported bringing in just more than $1 million. Rehrmann and Republican Charles I. Ecker of Howard County trailed in the money race with $483,013 and $142,524, respectively.

An analysis by The Sun of the money contributed in the past year yielded interesting contrasts:

Glendening's accounts were top-heavy with large gifts.

Some two-thirds of his individual contributions, or $610,000, came in chunks of $1,000 or more.

Sauerbrey raised 36 percent of her funds in donations of $1,000 or more. But the former state delegate from Baltimore County also received financial help from an army of small donors -- some 3,300 people made contributions of less than $200, accounting for a quarter of what she raised.

Glendening received 886 contributions of less than $200, accounting for 7.8 percent of the money he raised in the past year. Similarly, Rehrmann raised 7.6 percent of her money in contributions of less than $200, and 44 percent in chunks of $1,000 or more.

Glendening picked up 28 percent of his contributions from outside Maryland. Ten percent of his donations came from supporters in the District of Columbia or Virginia. New York givers chipped in $46,000, while Texans accounted for $16,000.

Maryland residents

By comparison, Sauerbrey received 93 percent of her funds from Maryland residents or businesses, and Rehrmann 95 percent. Not surprisingly, Rehrmann pulled in 38 percent of her money -- or $117,000 -- from Harford County supporters. Of the $124,000 Ecker raised in the last year, only $1,400 came from out of state.

Rehrmann had the highest proportion of business contributions: 51 percent of her money came from corporations or businesses. For Glendening, businesses accounted for 37 percent of his funds; for Sauerbrey, the figure was 28 percent.

Glendening has received contributions from many people and enterprises that do business with the state or would like to, or whose corporate bottom lines are heavily influenced by the actions of state government.

Lost bid

Cole Vision Corp. of Cleveland, for example, contributed $1,250 to Glendening last month. Cole lost a bid this year to provide vision-care services to state employees, but Cole officials have said the company will try again when the contract is re-bid next year.

In another case, Brown Capital Management, gave the governor's campaign a $2,000 contribution. Brown manages some $100 million in assets held by the state pension system.

Staples Inc., the office-supply company, and its chief executive gave a total of $8,000 to Glendening. The company received last year a package of $2.7 million in state loans and grants to help build a distribution center in Hagerstown.

Such contributions do not surprise critics of the financing system.

"The people making large contributions are doing it as an investment," said Deborah Povich, executive director of Common Cause/Maryland, the government watchdog group. "They are expecting something. They are hoping for something in return."

Big giving

While the Republican Party is sometimes portrayed as the party of the high-rollers, the pattern shown in the reports of big giving to Democratic candidates and smaller, more numerous contributions to the Republican is not unusual, according to Ron Fauchex, editor and publisher of Campaigns and Elections, a Washington-based, national newsletter.

Democratic money, he said, typically comes from big-ticket givers who attend small fund-raising parties, often in private homes, while Republicans tend to depend on direct mail and grass-roots giving.

Tim Phillips, campaign manager for Glendening, said the proportion of supporters giving smaller amounts to the governor's re-election effort would rise as the campaign progresses.

Potluck

"You begin to have your potluck suppers, where people pay $5 to get in," Phillips said. "That's more about politics than fund-raising."

David G. Albert, Sauerbrey's campaign manager, said the breadth of her contributor list shows a "tremendous grass-roots effort that is highly motivated."

The Sun's analysis found that some big givers are hedging their political bets.

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