1,500 people show up at executive's fund-raiser

Ruppersberger still coy about plans for money

gubernatorial race possible

April 15, 1999|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

About 1,500 people paid up to $500 each to show support and rub elbows with Baltimore County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger last night -- despite his lack of specifics on how he will spend the money.

Ruppersberger, who is in his second term as county executive, is widely seen as a Democratic candidate for governor in 2002, but he remained coy about whether he will run. He is limited to two consecutive terms as executive under the county charter.

Some political observers see a chance Ruppersberger would run for the 2nd Congressional District seat, which is slated to be redrawn after the 2000 census.

But Ruppersberger was not announcing plans last night.

"Right now, I'm just trying to do the best job I can for Baltimore County," he said.

Ruppersberger added about $300,000 to a campaign treasury of $529,000 with the event at Martin's West.

Some of the state's major political players attended, including U.S. Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, Comptroller William Donald Schaefer and two potential rivals in the race for governor, Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan.

Townsend, considered by some to be a front-runner, said she attended because she enjoys a good working relationship with Ruppersberger and has "a lot of friends in Baltimore County."

"The election's still a long time away," said Townsend.

Other Democrats mentioned as possible gubernatorial candidates include Prince George's County Executive Wayne K. Curry and U.S. Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin of Baltimore.

Those in the crowd, who paid $125 and $500 for tickets, munched on beef, chicken and seafood dishes and watched as about two dozen elected officials were called to a stage to show their support for Ruppersberger.

"The great thing about Dutch is that once he gets elected, he knows how to govern," Sarbanes told the crowd.

Ruppersberger said that last night's event raised about the same amount as last year's major fund-raiser.

"None of us like fund raising, but if you are going to be competitive, it's something that you have to do," Ruppersberger said.

Whoever runs for governor will have to raise considerable cash.

Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey spent a record $6.4 million in her bid last fall to oust Gov. Parris N. Glendening, who spent $6.2 million.

The same two candidates raised $7.1 million -- a record at the time -- when they faced off in 1994.

Pub Date: 4/15/99

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