After a year in office, Mayor Martin O'Malley has planned his first two fund-raisers, including one that is expected to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars, though at this point it's too early to know for which race he's raising money.
The marquee event is April 18 at PSINet Stadium, and it's expected to draw nearly every mover and shaker - and would-be mover and shaker - in town. Tickets are priced at $1,000 and $250, a bit more, of course, than it costs for most seats in the stadium.
One of the mayor's closest advisers and top fund-raisers, attorney Richard O. Berndt, held a luncheon yesterday at the Center Club, where O'Malley addressed about 100 people who will help sell tickets to the event.
Among the high-powered guests:
Frank P. Bramble, chairman of Allfirst Financial Inc.; Stephen A. Burch, president of Comcast Corp.'s Mid-Atlantic Division; Ronald H. Lipscomb, president and founder of Duracon Contracting Inc., a minority contracting firm; and developer Otis Warren.
"This crowd was for the high-rollers," said Baltimore Del. Howard P. Rawlings, a supporter of O'Malley who was not at the luncheon. "I'm for the low-rollers."
The "low-rollers" can pay $35 to attend another fund-raiser O'Malley has planned for March 11 to celebrate his first year in office. The mayor's Irish rock band, O'Malley's March, will perform at that almost-St. Patrick's Day event, to be held at Hammerjacks.
O'Malley's backers are hoping for a crowd of thousands on March 11, not so much to raise money as to show enthusiastic support for the mayor. O'Malley addressed about 450 ticket-sellers for that fund-raiser in an event Sunday at the Belvedere Hotel.
"He spoke, and they were just thrilled," said Colleen Martin-Lauer, a Baltimore fund-raising consultant who is organizing the fund-raisers.
"He has a tremendous amount of support."
The 38-year-old mayor's popularity appears to be high after a year in which violent crime and murders declined, property values went up, and O'Malley was lucky enough to have a football team to cheer on its way to the Super Bowl.
The question he has declined to answer so far is whether he will run for governor next year, run for re-election in 2004, wait for a U.S. Senate seat to open up for him, or combine those options.
"I'm light-years away from thinking about that," O'Malley said when asked about the governor's race yesterday. "It's not even on my radar screen."
No matter what office he runs for, it seems certain that the fund-raisers will be well-attended.
Incumbency a plus
"He's the mayor," said pollster Carol A. Arscott of Gonzalez/Arscott Research & Communications. "Incumbency is a wonderful thing."
Sun staff writer Neal Thompson contributed to this article.