Hopefuls far short of cash for race

Executive candidates in Balto. County may need $1 million each

November 15, 2001|By Andrew A. Green | Andrew A. Green,SUN STAFF

Baltimore County executive candidates are a long way from the $1 million each might need to win the post, according to their latest campaign finance reports.

Republican Douglas B. Riley of Towson and Democrat James T. Smith Jr. of Reisterstown are the only declared candidates. Over the past year, they've raised $68,913.25 and $46,264, respectively, according to reports filed last week.

But Smith has almost $39,000 cash on hand. Riley has about $19,000, having spent more than he has raised this year.

Two men often mentioned as possible candidates, state Sen. Thomas L. Bromwell of Perry Hall and Councilman Joseph Bartenfelder of Fullerton, both Democrats, have far more money.

Bromwell has raised $234,097.50 this year and has more than $300,000 in the bank. Bartenfelder, who will hold a major fund-raiser this month, has collected more than $95,000 this year, and has about $107,000 in the bank, some of which is left from previous years. Neither has announced his intentions regarding the race.

Republican Del. James F. Ports Jr. of Perry Hall has formed an exploratory committee to consider running for executive or another office. The State Board of Elections had not received his report yesterday.

Although Smith's total is modest compared with those of others in Baltimore County, it is notable because he began raising money only after he resigned as a circuit judge a little more than two months ago. He will hold his first fund-raiser Nov. 29 and has estimated that he will exceed his goal of $250,000.

Nearly three-fourths of his total was in donations of $1,000 or more.

Smith estimates that he will need $1 million to win the race, depending on how close it is. The last competitive executive race, in 1994, cost each candidate nearly that much, he said.

Smith said he has no love of asking for money but is preparing for expensive television and radio campaigns. "This is so early, but I am prepared to do that," he said.

"I'm flattered that he thinks that" he needs to raise that much money, Riley said.

Riley said he will raise more money but has based his candidacy on a door-to-door strategy instead of a large advertising budget.

"It's part of running as a Republican in Baltimore County," he said. "I have to go out and get my votes one at a time."

Neither candidate has strong countywide name recognition, so $1 million might be a realistic estimate, said Councilman Kevin Kamenetz, a Pikesville-Randallstown Democrat.

"In a race without incumbents and with individuals who are not possessed with the strongest name recognition, I think that $1 million is a ridiculous amount of money to have to spend, but it is probably the price that has to be paid in order to achieve the proper name recognition," he said.

Some county councilmen have also amassed large funds. Kamenetz tops the list with more than $200,000 in the bank, $69,083.41 of which he has raised this year.

He has no announced challengers, but Debra Plant of Owings Mills has formed a committee to consider a bid. Kamenetz said he expects a challenge.

T. Bryan McIntire, a north county-Owings Mills Republican, has the second-highest total with nearly $140,000 in cash, nearly $87,000 of it raised in the past year. Rumors have circulated for months that he will face opposition in the Republican primary.

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