Bishop campaign fund at $1,000 after 7 weeks in executive race 'Issues, not money' key, says Ruppersberger foe

August 20, 1998|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

Almost seven weeks after jumping into the race for Baltimore County executive, Republican John J. Bishop has raised $1,000 to counter incumbent Democrat C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger, whose fund is 749 times larger.

"The campaign is based on issues, not money," says Bishop, a former two-term delegate from Parkville. "I've been all over the county, and very well received."

Bishop is pushing for a reduction in the county's piggyback income tax and stricter use of development regulations to safeguard communities. He also opposes the removal of any county jobs from the merit system as proposed by Ruppersberger.

The latest campaign finance reports, covering contributions up to Aug. 11, also show that Bishop, who faces no opposition in the primary, is carrying $4,627 worth of debt from his 1994 loss to Democratic state Sen. Thomas L. Bromwell. Bishop said he is expecting another $5,000 soon from the county Republican Party and former Rep. Helen Delich Bentley.

Ruppersberger reports raising $1.3 million in his first term, and has $749,146 left to spend. He's planning another big-ticket affair for October but said some of his money will pay for mailings and literature to help other candidates -- county legislators and councilmen on his "team." Neither executive candidate has a primary opponent.

"I don't think anybody's going to touch Dutch," said Frank J. vTC Wesolowski, a retired pharmacist and alternate county liquor board member whose last-minute $10,000 loan eight years ago helped boost Republican Roger B. Hayden to a huge upset victory -- making him the first GOP county executive since Spiro T. Agnew.

Bishop and County Councilman Douglas B. Riley, a Towson Republican who made the single $1,000 gift, say it's unfair to judge a whole campaign by this first report.

"We haven't started any fund raising at this point. This last month, we've been working on issues," Riley said, adding that Bishop won't use money collected this year to pay off old debts -- half of which are to himself.

But Donald F. Norris, a professor of policy sciences at University of Maryland, Baltimore County, said, "Anybody who is that far behind at this stage of the campaign is in a lot of trouble."

Herb Smith, a political consultant and professor at Western Maryland College, wondered if the lack of contributions reflects the belief by some supporters of Republican gubernatorial candidate Ellen R. Sauerbrey's that Bishop's campaign will only energize Ruppersberger -- a Glendening supporter.

Carol Hirschburg, a spokeswoman for Sauerbrey, denied that, saying: "No one is discouraging people from giving money. If you fund raise aggressively, you'll get money."

Ruppersberger spent Tuesday showing how an incumbent can benefit without spending a cent of campaign money.

"I'm just focusing on our record, what we've accomplished over the last four years," Ruppersberger said as he joined Glendening and other officials among hundreds of Catonsville residents at the opening of Westchester Elementary School.

Later that day, Ruppersberger also announced state employment figures showing that the county added 8,400 new jobs last year, the highest in the area.

Since November, when the last campaign reports were filed, Ruppersberger reported raising $359,380, mostly at his annual March fund-raiser. He spent $174,000, and has no loans. Campaign treasurer David C. Deger said refunds were made to two contributors who gave more than the $4,000 allowed by law -- $2,000 to Koros Inc., owner of Double-T Diner, and $2,250 to Clay Stambaugh Refuse Service Inc., one of the county's private trash haulers.

Trash haulers, who pick up county residential trash based on a system of verbal contracts with county government, bought $4,750 worth of tickets to the March affair at Martin's West in Woodlawn. Lawyers, developers, builders and business owners also bought scores of tickets.

Pub Date: 8/20/98

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