Two years before she'll again have to face voters, County Executive Janet S. Owens has $63,598 in her campaign account - a fraction of the $500,000 she expects it will take her to win another four-year term.
But a pair of fund-raisers are scheduled for the first half of next year, and her campaign treasurer says all is fine in the money department.
"We're right where we want to be," said William F. Chaney, Owens' lifelong friend and close political adviser.
Not that Owens enjoys asking for contributions. "I think it's obscene it costs so much money," she said yesterday during her weekly meeting with reporters.
In the past year, Owens has raised $62,179, while spending almost all of it - $59,543 - on fund-raising events, contributions to fellow Democrats and political receptions, according to a report her campaign filed yesterday with the state Board of Elections.
Since she was elected in 1998, Owens has raised $157,247 and spent $93,649.
While the list of recent contributors includes powerful corporations and developers, Owens says the money doesn't affect how she runs the county.
"I think many people would be surprised [that] I don't look at contributions," she said.
Asked why anyone would want to give her money, she said: "Because I'm county executive. I'm the best person for the job."
Those writing large checks last month included two high--tech firms that each ponied up $2,000: USinternetworking Inc., which has unsuccessfully lobbied Owens to block a Wal-Mart store planned for Parole, and TeleCommunication System Inc., an Annapolis company that Owens selected in May to help redevelop the David Taylor Research Center as a high-tech office park.
In the development community, donors in the past year included Helix Construction Services Inc. of Severna Park, which gave $1,000; Sigma Engineering Inc. of Annapolis, which gave $500; and prominent law firm Blumenthal, Delavan & Williams, which gave $120 in June.
The campaign's biggest expenditures went to pay for fund-raisers: $7,796 for a golf tournament at South River Golf Links in Edgewater, $2,600 to the Outback Steakhouse restaurant in Annapolis and $4,410 to Atlantic Caterers in Pasadena.
Owens billed her campaign about $3,000 for air travel and hotel accommodations at the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles.
The campaign also spent $6,858 at Lothian Antiques for office furniture.
If Owens winds up spending $500,000 on the 2002 campaign, as she expects, it will be more than the $358,000 she said it cost her to unseat Republican incumbent John G. Gary in 1998 - largely without prominent contributors. She noted that Gary spent a record $800,000 on a losing effort.
The dollar figures may seem large, Owens said, but she pointed out that a mass mailing could cost $40,000.