Pace of ads persists in June Candidate for gov. spending $1 million

TV blitz early in election

Latest spot proposes slots for school funds

June 04, 1998|By Craig Timberg | Craig Timberg,SUN STAFF

An article in yesterday's editions of The Sun incorrectly described Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McGuire's position on slot machine gambling. He is opposed to slot machines at horse tracks. But he said he would support a statewide referendum on whether to allow state-owned and -operated slot machines at three to five locations, with 10 percent of the proceeds going to racing purses and the remainder earmarked for tax relief.

A headline for the same article suggested incorrectly that a television advertisement for Raymond F. Schoenke Jr. proposes to pay for educational programs with revenues from slot machines. The advertisement advocates the programs but does not specify how the programs would be funded; the candidate himself mentioned slot machines in an interview.

The Sun regrets the errors.

Millionaire Democrat Raymond F. Schoenke Jr. is keeping up his record-setting pace of television advertising by spending $1 million this month on new commercials, including a spot proposing ambitious education programs that he says would be funded by slot machines.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

The new round of ads, in addition to $800,000 spent since April, is expected to reach more than 90 percent of Maryland voters and be seen by the average television viewer up to 10 times a week, campaign officials say.

The move puts slot machines -- which Gov. Parris N. Glendening opposes -- even more securely at the heart of the governor's race. Another Democratic contender, Harford County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann, favors slot machines at racetracks, with some profits going to education.

The early, heavy ad campaign also suggests that Schoenke may spend far more from his own pocket than the $2 million he initially pledged. This most recent buy keeps Schoenke on the air in Baltimore and begins a foray into the notoriously expensive Washington market.

"Amazing, amazing, amazing," said political consultant Herbert C. Smith of Schoenke's spending spree on television. "This is unusual for any state."

The two new ads starting in the Baltimore area next week feature Schoenke, a Montgomery County insurance magnate and former Washington Redskin, speaking to the camera -- a departure from his introductory ads, which included only an off-screen announcer.

In his first speaking parts, Schoenke focuses on schools and joins a growing chorus of politicians attacking managed care and health maintenance organizations that restrict access to some doctors and procedures.

On schools, he proposes smaller classes, expanded after-school programs and new efforts to put troublemakers in alternative programs. Schoenke does not say how he would pay for these programs, nor does he give a price tag.

But in an interview, Schoenke said state-owned slot machines at Maryland's racetracks would help the state's racing industry while providing plenty of money for his educational initiatives.

"We want to revive that industry," Schoenke said. But he added, "This campaign is about families and children. It's not about gambling."

A spokesman for Glendening, who has made his opposition to new forms of gambling a cornerstone of his campaign for re-election, criticized Schoenke's new ad.

"Governor Glendening is recognized all over this state for his leadership on education," said campaign spokesman Peter Hamm. "For this other candidate to say he'll help kids in exchange for sneaking gambling into Maryland is unconscionable."

Schoenke and Rehrmann are battling to emerge as the dominant rival to Glendening, though a fourth Democrat, Dr. Terry A. McGuire -- who opposes slot machines at racetracks but says he would consider allowing several casinos -- also is in the race.

Some political observers say Schoenke's early barrage of ads is aimed mostly at establishing him as the clear alternative to Glendening in the Democratic primary.

Schoenke "has spent a fair amount of money so far and remains in third place," said Rehrmann spokesman George F. Harrison, who says private campaign polls show Rehrmann ahead of Schoenke. "I guess he wants to spend some more money to see if he can do better."

In the other new ad, Schoenke is shown with a doctor and a bureaucrat wearing a green visor. "I'm Ray Schoenke," he says. "As governor, you'll be able to choose your own doctor, and your medical decisions will be made by MDs, not bureaucrats."

Bashing the restrictions of HMOs and managed-care insurance zTC policies has become an increasingly popular move for politicians in Washington and in state legislatures around the country.

Ads that focus on specific issues are uncommon so far in advance of elections. But Schoenke long has pledged to spend at least $4 million on his campaign by the Sept. 15 primary, with $2 million coming from his personal fortune. The rest, he hopes, will be raised from supporters.

Yesterday, with $1.8 million already committed to television ads through this month, Schoenke declined to put a limit on how much he might spend. "We're prepared to win this race," he said.

But this week has also brought news that millionaire candidates can have trouble winning credibility among voters. In California on Tuesday, three millionaire candidates lost in primary elections.

Pub Date: 6/04/98

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