WASHINGTON -- U.S. Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes is continuing to provide evidence of enduring political strength. The long-serving Maryland Democrat has raised more than $1.4 million toward his re-election bid this fall.
His Republican challenger, Paul H. Rappaport, emerged from his primary win last month with $310 in hand and $3,300 in debts. But the 65-year-old former Howard County police chief, who envisions a $1 million campaign, said he is just beginning to raise money.
"We wanted to do a lot of planning," Rappaport said yesterday. "Now we're going into the fund-raising mode."
Sarbanes spokesman Jesse Jacobs said, "The senator has raised money both in and out of the state and will continue to do so."
Sarbanes, a four-term senator, has a distinct money advantage at this stage. According to documents to be sent to the Federal Election Commission this weekend, Sarbanes raised nearly $168,000 between Feb. 17 and March 31.
The reports, which include the weeks surrounding the March 7 primary, show that the 67-year-old Sarbanes has $1.1 million on hand.
At the same point during his 1994 re-election campaign, he had raised $741,000. In that race, Sarbanes beat Republican William E. Brock, a former Tennessee senator and U.S. labor secretary, 59 percent to 41 percent, despite being outspent $3.2 million to $2.7 million.
Rappaport reports having raised $26,000 and spent more than $22,500 this year. He was his party's nominee for lieutenant governor on the 1994 ticket headed by Ellen R. Sauerbrey.
He also ran unsuccessfully against state Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. two years ago. Rappaport raised slightly more than $74,000 for that 1998 election, his only statewide race on his own.
Jennifer Duffy, who tracks Senate races for Cook Political Report, said this weekend's filings reflected Rappaport's need to spend what money and time he has seeking votes during the competitive Republican primary. Sarbanes faced only token Democratic primary opposition.
"This is such an uphill race for Republicans," Duffy said.
Rappaport said he took hope from the 1994 gubernatorial contest, in which Sauerbrey spent $1.8 million to Parris N. Glendening's $5.3 million and lost by fewer than 6,000 votes. Rappaport said he expects Arizona Sen. John McCain, a major attraction on the campaign trail, to come to Maryland to help him raise money.
That seems to be news to the McCain camp. "We're looking at invitations from candidates across the country," McCain spokesman Todd Harris said. "However, as of [yesterday], we have not scheduled an appearance with Mr. Rappaport."
Sarbanes has served in Congress since 1967 and is the senior Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee. The liberal senator attracts a diverse group of donors, including financiers, union officials, lawyers and homemakers, and many of Greek descent.
Wednesday, he was the guest of honor at a Washington luncheon arranged by Emanuel L. Rouvelas, a family friend who is chairman of the Seattle-based law firm Preston, Gates. The Gates in the firm's name, William Gates, is the father of Microsoft magnate Bill Gates.
At the luncheon, which offered attendees a choice of shrimp salad and crab-meat lasagna, nearly 20 lawyers took turns lauding the senator for his service. Sarbanes received contributions of about $17,000.
In two weeks, Sarbanes will appear at a private lunch organized by Edmund Rice, executive director of the Coalition for Employment Through Exports, a pro-trade business group. The affair is expected to yield $10,000.