Campaign reports show O'Malley raised $444,000

Key contributors appear to be downtown interests

August 17, 1999|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

Campaign reports show that City Councilman Martin O'Malley has raised $444,000 in his bid to become Baltimore's next mayor, a strong showing despite his late start in the race.

O'Malley, who joined the race June 22, marches into the final four weeks of the turbulent primary campaign with $290,000 remaining. Experts predicted that Baltimore's 47th mayor would need to raise at least $1 million to win the city's first mayoral race without an incumbent in 28 years.

Despite his quick start, O'Malley has a lot of heavy fund raising ahead of him in the final month of the campaign in a tight race that includes City Council President Lawrence A. Bell III and former City Councilman Carl Stokes.

In 1995, incumbent Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke spent $1.8 million to win his third term, defeating former City Council President Mary Pat Clarke. Clarke raised $967,200.

"My guess is that it costs a helluva lot more than $444,000 to be mayor," said Matthew Crenson, a Johns Hopkins University political science professor.

O'Malley's reports -- filed a day before deadline and the first issued by a chief mayoral candidate -- showed yesterday that the eight-year council veteran from Northeast Baltimore has become downtown's candidate. Most major contributions to the defense attorney and former prosecutor came from real estate managers, bankers, lawyers and hotel developers.

Despite Clarke's backing of Bell in the mayor's race, her husband and downtown hotel developer, J. Joseph Clarke, contributed $1,100 to O'Malley through his company, J. J. Clarke Enterprises.

Mr. Clarke is rebuilding the Southern Hotel, a long-vacant landmark at Light and Baltimore streets. He intends to put a $120 million, 35-story skyscraper, with a 267-room Embassy Suites hotel and office with retail shops in its place.

During its final sessions last month, the City Council approved a $6.1 million tax break for the project. As head of the council's Taxation and Finance Committee, O'Malley guided the legislation through the council.

O'Malley supported the project, stating that the hotel will bring the city $6.6 million in other taxes such as parking and hotel fees.

O'Malley's largest contributions came from another hopeful downtown hotel developer, Harvey Schulweis. Schulweis of New York contributed the state maximum of $4,000 to O'Malley while his company, Schulweis Realty, also contributed the $4,000 maximum.

Schulweis has proposed building a $124 million Westin Hotel at the former News American site at 300 E. Pratt St. and hopes to secure a similar tax break from the City Council.

"I think they look at the field of candidates and they see that one of us understands economic development," O'Malley said of the contributions.

O'Malley also noted that 75 percent of the 1,329 contributions he received came from individuals and that 1,055 were less than $250.

"I think if you look overall, it's a pretty wide array of interests," he said.

On the celebrity contribution list, O'Malley received a $100 contribution from former U.S. Sen. Gary Hart. O'Malley worked as a field manager for Hart's 1988 presidential campaign.

The campaign finance reports for the city's 25 mayoral candidates must be postmarked by today. Copies must be sent to the state elections board in Annapolis in addition to the city election office at 417 E. Fayette St.

Pub Date: 8/17/99

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