Glendening and Sauerbrey work their phones for money Candidates seek numbers for state finance reports

August 12, 1998|By William F. Zorzi Jr. | William F. Zorzi Jr.,SUN STAFF

It was just 24 hours after he'd learned that his only serious opponent in the Sept. 15 Democratic primary had dropped out of the race, but Gov. Parris N. Glendening was taking no chances.

Sitting at a desk in his College Park campaign headquarters yesterday, Glendening methodically telephoned potential contributors to his campaign against Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey in November. In some cases, to seal the deal on the spot, couriers were dispatched to pick up the checks.

Similar scenes have played out in both camps in recent weeks, as candidates and staffs pressed to meet an important midnight deadline last night for state campaign finance reports.

The reports will reveal contributions and expenditures through Aug. 11 and offer the first glimpse this year of how much money each candidate has raised and spent.

In the crunch time before the filings, Glendening and Sauerbrey have been on the telephone to contributors for hours each week. In Glendening's case, for instance, he blocked out Monday and yesterday to raise money.

"This is simply a matter of political reality in this day and age," said Peter S. Hamm, a Glendening campaign spokesman. " You can't win without raising money.

It may be the one thing on which Sauerbrey concurs. "It is not fun to ask for money," she said. "The biggest complaint I hear from my finance director is that I'm not on the phone enough."

Sauerbrey said yesterday that she had been away from the phones for the past "four to five days" but that she wanted "to show a good solid report" in next Tuesday's filing.

"I think it's going to be an impressive showing," she said. "I know it's going to be more than a Republican's ever raised in Maryland."

The campaign had set as a goal raising $4 million by November, which Sauerbrey said she still considers "not unrealistic."

According to people familiar with Glendening's operation, the governor's finance director wants him on the phones 15 hours a week calling potential contributors -- most often from the campaign office, but occasionally from the Maryland Democratic Party headquarters in Annapolis, across from the State House.

Not unlike a salesman, the governor works from a "call sheet," information about the person being telephoned that is prepared by the campaign's paid four-person fund-raising staff. The information could include the amount of money the person had given in the past, a particular affiliation with a group or a mutual friend, the name of a spouse.

Depending on how well he knows the person, Glendening, who pulled in and spent a record $5.3 million in 1994, might suggest an amount -- for example, the maximum $8,000 limit for his ticket with Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.

Or if the governor has a larger figure in mind, say $50,000, he may suggest the person hold a private "house party" fund-raiser. In that case, it becomes the sponsor's job to round up enough people to attend the party.

A fund-raising staffer is there with the candidate, taking notes, faxing out an invitation to an event or preparing a follow-up call or letter.

Sauerbrey goes through roughly the same drill at her East Towson headquarters.

She, too, has used house parties -- which range from the very elaborate and dressy cocktail parties and dinners to folksy backyard barbecues -- instead of large events at halls.

Many of those have had featured nationally recognized Republicans as speakers, drawing those who like to rub elbows with the big-name politicians.

"We probably do an average of four a week," Sauerbrey said.

Her campaign has also met with surprising success with direct mail solicitations, aimed at potential smaller contributors who are asked for amounts of $25, $50, $100 or $250.

Pub Date: 8/12/98

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