4 face uphill battle in race

Democrats hopeful despite Ehrlich's budget, recognition

Mohorovic a favorite

February 22, 2000|By Joe Nawrozki | Joe Nawrozki,SUN STAFF

With two weeks to go until the March 7 primary, the contenders for the Democratic nomination in the 2nd Congressional District are running shoestring campaigns against a heavily favored and well-financed incumbent.

By Jan. 31, none of the four Democrats had raised $5,000, an amount that would require them to file fund-raising reports with the Federal Elections Commission. In contrast, Republican Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., who is seeking his fourth term, has nearly $700,000.

"We're grass roots. The money will come later," said Mike Gallagher, treasurer for Del. Jacob J. Mohorovic Jr., a Dundalk Democrat.

Kenneth T. Bosley, who lost to Ehrlich two years ago, also seemed unconcerned. Expecting a win March 7, he said, "After the primary, once it's Ehrlich and me, funds will come into my campaign."

About 600,000 people live in the 2nd Congressional District, which covers most of Harford County and half of Baltimore County and part of northern Anne Arundel County.

The front-runner in the Democratic race appears to be Mohorovic, observers say, based on endorsements from organized labor and promises of contributions from east-side Democratic clubs, including Battle Grove, the New Seventh and County Seals.

"Plus, Jake [Mohorovic] will soon have a higher name recognition," said John Olszewski Sr., a county councilman representing Dundalk, who also heads the 2nd Congressional District campaign for Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore.

`Work cut out for him'

"Jake will have more working money and support than his opponents," Olszewski said. "He will have his work cut out for him in the general [election], a lot having do with Ehrlich sitting there with this huge war chest."

Besides money, Ehrlich has name recognition, a Web site and a vast constituency outreach network.

Still, Democrats are putting on brave faces.

"Ehrlich's supporters are big business and political action committees," said Bosley, a Sparks resident. "Voters are more aware of those powerful influences and what they mean in their daily lives."

No need for Web site

He added: "I don't need a Web site to cover the district. I enjoy going around and meeting people face to face. I found out the other night at a Rotary Club meeting in Anne Arundel County that most people don't know an election's coming up.

"That's disturbing," he said.

Other Democratic contenders are Edward J. Hornzell, who lists a Woodmoor-area mailing address, and Walter Thomas Kuebler of the Lutherville-Timonium area.

In 1998, Bosley beat four others in the primary and garnered about 32 percent of the votes in the general election, while Ehrlich pulled in nearly 70 percent.

Bosley spent $4,000 on his campaign, compared to Ehrlich's $400,000.

Funds not there

A lack of campaign funds was a primary reason Baltimore lawyer Raymond D. Burke withdrew from the 2nd District race last month.

"We did an exploratory examination on the funds needed, and we weren't there. The primary was upon us," said Burke.

Ehrlich, who is unopposed for the GOP nomination, has barely dipped into his campaign treasury.

"There hasn't been much to do except put some signs up," said Ehrlich. "I plan to keep to my busy schedule, speaking around the district and Maryland and meeting with my constituents."

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