Ecker won't qualify for public financing He says campaign falls short in matching funds


July 17, 1998|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF

Howard County Executive Charles I. Ecker's underdog candidacy for governor ran into a new obstacle yesterday as he conceded that his campaign would not raise enough money to qualify for public financing.

Ecker vowed to continue his struggle to wrest the Republican nomination over the heavily favored Ellen R. Sauerbrey.

"Sure, I've got a serious chance -- with or without the financing," Ecker said.

Neither Ecker nor campaign officials would say precisely how much his campaign had raised or how far short of their goals it had fallen.

Gubernatorial candidates in Maryland can qualify for public financing of as much as $750,000 if they agree to limit their spending in the primary to about $1.5 million.

But to qualify, said Ecker campaign Chairman Michael W. Davis, candidates must raise about $160,000 in campaign contributions less than $250 from individuals.

Davis said the campaign has raised more than the $160,000 minimum, but not in the form the law requires. He noted that corporate contributions, gifts from political action committees and the amounts individuals donate in excess of $250 cannot be counted.

It appears that the all of the gubernatorial candidates who wanted public financing are unlikely to qualify and that those who would qualify don't want it.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening, Democratic challenger Eileen M. Rehrmann and GOP front-runner Ellen R. Sauerbrey have declined public money. Dr. Terry McGuire, a long-shot Democratic candidate who had expressed interest in public financing, said yesterday that he too would fall short of the minimum to qualify but would stay in the race. Lawrence Freeman is also a Democratic candidate for governor.

Candidates who qualify for the program theoretically can get as much as a dollar in matching funds for each eligible dollar raised privately. But in practice the public money is limited by the amount available in the fund set up for that purpose.

In 1994, candidates had to raise about $2 for each $1 in public funds.

Pub Date: 7/17/98

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