Schaefer fund-raiser brings in $350,000 Event is attended by more than 1,000

Campaign 1998

August 27, 1998|By C. Fraser Smith | C. Fraser Smith,SUN STAFF

More than a thousand Marylanders turned out last night to bankroll former governor William Donald Schaefer's return to electoral politics -- with about 200 writing $1,000 checks to his campaign for state comptroller.

A total of $350,000 was contributed by those who attended a private reception followed by a $125-per-ticket gala, according to campaign officials.

The colorful Schaefer was hailed last night as a man of independence much needed in public life. Democrats have not been shy about calling him the spice needed for this election year's bland political stew.

"He's one of the last guys who makes it fun; we've got all of these vanilla politicians," said George F. Griffin, special assistant to Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan.

Introducing Schaefer, Democratic Rep. Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland's 5th District called the candidate for comptroller "a good and decent man of common sense."

Schaefer campaign officials called their event the largest -- in terms of attendance -- since Schaefer's last gubernatorial fund-raisers in 1990, his last campaign -- or so it had been thought. Officials estimated that 1,600 to 2,000 people were on hand last night.

Notably absent was Gov. Parris N. Glendening, who reportedly had a fund-raiser of his own to attend. Glendening had been anxious to bask in the excitement of Schaefer's return to public ++ life -- though he initially wanted someone else to seek the job left empty by the death of Louis L. Goldstein this summer.

Glendening's running mate, Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, was at the Schaefer event, as was House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. Townsend hailed Schaefer's ability to get people involved in the political process.

During the event, the audience was asked to reflect on Goldstein's legacy -- and to think of Schaefer as his ideal replacement. "He's the right man in the right place at the right time," Taylor said.

But Schaefer noted with some wonder the sudden turn of events in July that put him in that spot. "Who would have thought it?" he said of Goldstein's death and his candidacy.

Last night's event was held at Martin's West, the political catering hall and scene of many Schaefer events in the past 40 years.

As when Schaefer ran for mayor of Baltimore and governor of Maryland, he and his campaign used the "Reflections" theme for this event, suggesting that people were not so much surrendering their cash as celebrating the accomplishments of the man they were supporting. "Reflections '98" also employed many of the people who worked on Schaefer's earlier campaigns.

Robert Douglass, his former press secretary and now a lawyer with Piper & Marbury, was on hand, along with Lainy Lebow-Sachs, his former chief of staff. Mark Wasserman, Schaefer's former economic development chief, and Nelson Sabatini, his former secretary of health, also have been working on the campaign.

The audience included numerous other elected public officials, politically active lawyers, lobbyists, business executives and friends who have remained Schaefer loyalists since he left office in 1994.

With the approximately $350,000 claimed from last night's reception, Schaefer might have raised all the money he will need for his primary and general election campaigns. Unlike other statewide campaigns -- for governor or U.S. senator -- races for the comptroller's office are not generally high-cost affairs, particularly because they tend not to involve much television advertising.

In the Democratic primary, Schaefer faces Baltimore Comptroller Joan M. Pratt. Hoyer closed the evening by declaring: "We've got to work hard. We can't take this race for granted."

Pub Date: 8/27/98

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