Small funds fuel race Sauerbrey donations smaller but outnumber Glendening's

Grass-roots support seen

Incumbent has edge over Republican in total money raised

Campaign 1998

August 20, 1998|By William F. Zorzi Jr. and Thomas W. Waldron | William F. Zorzi Jr. and Thomas W. Waldron,SUN STAFF Sun electronic news editor Mike Himowitz contributed to this article.

While trailing in the hunt for money in the governor's race, Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey has tapped into a broad base of small-dollar but ardent contributors who could generate important support for her at the polls.

Even as Sauerbrey is making inroads into the state's business community for larger donations, she is drawing significant numbers of contributions -- $25 and $50 at a time -- from the believers who buoyed her candidacy in 1994.

"These are the folks that are the hardest to convince to contribute to a political campaign," said Bruce E. Mentzer, a national GOP media consultant based in Towson.

"They not only have made a personal investment but a financial investment, and that does tend to be a motivation to turn out on Election Day," he said.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening has the edge over Sauerbrey in the total amount of money raised, as the two head for a likely rematch in the Nov. 3 general election. Glendening has collected nearly $3.9 million, while Sauerbrey has raised about $3 million.

But Sauerbrey has received money from far more contributors than Glendening. Her reports show more than 17,000 contributions overall -- while Glendening lists fewer than 7,000.

Three-quarters of the donations to Sauerbrey and running mate Richard D. Bennett are in amounts of $100 or less, according to a Sun analysis of campaign finance reports filed this week. By contrast, 24 percent of contributions to Glendening and Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend have been $100 or less.

That suggests Sauerbrey has had to work harder reaching out to donors for every dollar she has brought in. But it also suggests that she has developed an army of grass-roots supporters who could help her at the polls.

Among the Sauerbrey backers is Thomas E. Creutzer, a retired real estate salesman from Perry Hall who has given her $65 -- the most he's ever sent to a political candidate.

Creutzer's donation is one of the nearly 1,700 contributions of $100 or less Sauerbrey has taken in since Jan. 1, 1995, the start of this election cycle. He felt strongly enough about her candidacy that he helped persuade his brother, Frederick G. Creutzer III, to give $50 as well.

But he isn't stopping there. He plans to be there in his wheelchair on Election Day passing out campaign material, and he hopes to persuade a couple of friends to put up big Sauerbrey campaign signs on highly visible properties in the Baltimore area.

"I'm really very firm in my willingness to do what I can," said Creutzer, 58. "Not only are we going to give, we're going to stand out there on the corner when the time comes. That's something we've never done before."

Asked about the large number of small contributions to the Sauerbrey effort, a Glendening spokesman said the campaign is happy with its fund-raising efforts.

"We're very pleased with the support we're getting in every region of the state, both from small donors concerned about such things as protecting the Chesapeake Bay and from large donors who know this governor is working hard to create the work force of the 21st century," said spokesman Peter S. Hamm.

The Sun's analysis of this year's filings also showed:

The Glendening-Townsend slate received 44 percent of its contributions from businesses and political action committees, while 56 percent came from individuals. By contrast, about 28 percent of the Sauerbrey-Bennett contributions were from either businesses or PACs, and the remaining 72 percent came from individuals.

Less than 5 percent of Sauerbrey's contributions were for $1,000 or more, compared with nearly 29 percent of Glendening's donations. The bulk of Glendening's support -- 43.5 percent -- came in contributions of $500 or more, but less than $1,000.

In all, the Glendening campaign took in more than $90,000 from labor unions in the past nine months, a third of it from unions representing state and local government employees. The governor has been strongly pro-union and made history in 1996 when he signed an executive order giving state employees limited collective bargaining rights.

Although Glendening was forbidden from raising money during the 90-day legislative session that ended in April, since then he has raised slightly more money than Sauerbrey -- $1.4 million to $1.2 million. The pace means the governor has been bringing in more than $11,000 a day.

More than 92 percent of Sauerbrey's campaign contributions came from in-state donors. For the Glendening campaign, 67 percent of the contributions were from Marylanders.

Campaign consultants said Glendening's reliance on substantial out-of-state money was not unusual compared with governor's races around the country. But at least two factors helped drive up the figure for Glendening.

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