Bush aids GOP's pick Former president helps draw crowd to Sauerbrey fund-raiser

'I believe in Ellen'

High-profile event adds $350,000 to candidate's coffers

September 19, 1998|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF

TYSONS CORNER, Va. -- Former President George Bush embraced Ellen R. Sauerbrey's campaign for governor yesterday and helped her raise $350,000 in her bid to oust Gov. Parris N. Glendening.

"I believe in Ellen," the former president told about 200 donors who paid $1,000 to $4,000 a ticket to attend the breakfast fund-raiser, which put the Republican candidate's campaign funds at more than $4 million.

The mood was clearly upbeat as Republicans -- and some Democrats -- gathered for the campaign's first high-profile fund-raising event since Sauerbrey swept to victory in Tuesday's primary.

"This campaign is riding a tidal wave right now," said Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., who represents Maryland's 2nd District.

Ehrlich and other Republicans said that with the primary over and polls showing Sauerbrey neck-and-neck with the incumbent Democrat, the national party is prepared to invest heavily in the Maryland race.

"The national party clearly recognizes that this is the best opportunity in the country to win a seat that is now occupied by a Democrat," said Sauerbrey.

She said the campaign has scheduled 20 events in the next 29 days, many of them with nationally known Republican leaders to bring in the crowds. Campaign officials said that holding the breakfast in Virginia was the decision of hotel magnate J. W. "Bill" Marriott Jr., who played host to the event.

Yesterday's event was notable not only for the amount raised, but for who attended. The breakfast brought out some of the canny political donors who like to be associated with winners.

Ehrlich noted the presence of several Annapolis lobbyists.

"That is always a very accurate barometer of the direction in which a particular campaign is heading," he said.

Also attending were some donors who gave heavily to Glendening four years ago. Among them were Joseph A. De Francis, principal owner of the Pimlico and Laurel racetracks, and Kingdon Gould Jr., one of the state's leading developers.

Bush praised Sauerbrey's "value system" and took a veiled swipe at President Clinton, whose troubles have increased Republicans' confidence that they will seize the Maryland State House for the first time in more than three decades.

"We made some mistakes, but we did not demean the office of the president," said Bush, who added that he has refrained from criticizing his successor and won't start now.

Yesterday's fund-raiser was also notable for an appearance by Governor Schafer -- Ed Schafer of North Dakota, that is.

Schafer's presence, representing the Republican Governors Association, reminded Bush that Maryland's William Donald Schaefer -- a former governor who is running for comptroller on the Democratic ticket with Glendening -- broke party ranks to endorse Bush's unsuccessful 1992 re-election campaign.

Pub Date: 9/19/98

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