Mayor's fund-raiser brings in $800,000 for campaign coffers

Array of politicians, lobbyists, executives at PSINet Stadium event

April 26, 2001|By Gady A. Epstein | Gady A. Epstein,SUN STAFF

Mayor Martin O'Malley's first big-money fund-raiser of his term appeared to be a financial and political success last night, but no, it doesn't necessarily mean he's running for governor.

O'Malley's fund-raising consultant, Colleen Martin-Lauer, estimated that the campaign committee took in $800,000 from about 1,700 people at the bash in the club-level section of PSINet Stadium. A ticket cost $250 or $1,000, depending on whether you wanted cheese and fruit or a more lavish sampling of caviar-laced deviled eggs, lamb or sushi.

The mayor attracted the kind of crowd one might expect for a popular chief executive of a big city. A cadre of State House lobbyists showed, as did, it seemed, virtually every politically connected business executive and nonprofit chief in town. Developer John Paterakis traded notes with lobbyist Maurice Wyatt in one corner, lobbyist Alan Rifkin glad-handed Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin in another.

Besides Cardin, the requisite collection of fellow politicians paid their respects: Prince George's County Executive Wayne K. Curry, City Council President Sheila Dixon and other members of the council and the city's State House delegation.

And then there was Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, a likely 2002 gubernatorial contender, who made it to the affair a little late but wanted to show her support. Some in Democratic Party circles have whispered that O'Malley should run against Townsend next year -- talk the mayor does not directly shoot down.

But the betting money is that O'Malley will take a pass on the governor's race, and Townsend doesn't seem too worried.

"He's doing a fabulous job revitalizing the city," she said before entering the fund-raiser. "We're terrific partners in reducing crime, in making sure we have a west-side redevelopment, the `Digital Harbor.' And it will last."

Some of Townsend's biggest backers are on O'Malley's finance committee assembled for the fund-raiser -- a point that Townsend insiders say is a sign the mayor is staying put. More than 200 names are on the committee list, which reads like a who's-who of movers and shakers in Baltimore politics.

In thanking the crowd during a 15-minute speech, O'Malley ticked off a list of accomplishments of the last year: declining crime, rising home sales, and, of course, the Super Bowl champion Ravens and the heavyweight boxing champion Hasim "Rock" Rahman.

"We've had a great first year," O'Malley said.

He ended his remarks by quoting Rahman from earlier yesterday: "Baltimore's the greatest city in America, and the fight goes on. Bring on Tyson."

This was his second fund-raiser in the past 6 1/2 weeks. He raised nearly $100,000 on March 11, when about 2,700 paid $35 a ticket to hear the mayor and his Irish rock band perform at Hammerjacks. This time, there was a band, but O'Malley didn't play.

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