Ruppersberger planning to announce run for Congress

April 06, 2002|By Andrew Green | Andrew Green,SUN STAFF

Baltimore County Executive C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger plans to announce his run for Congress on April 29 with an event on the east side, a stop at his old middle school and tours through the rest of the newly redrawn 2nd District.

The details are still tentative -- Ruppersberger said he's working on lining up endorsements from east-side political leaders and needs to finish the county budget, pursue his agenda in Annapolis and wait for the legislature to complete the district lines.

But he has held two small fund-raisers and plans a large one May 6. Because state and federal fund-raising rules are different, he could transfer to a congressional campaign only a nominal amount of the $1.6 million he raised while plotting a run for governor.

Ruppersberger said this week that he is consulting a lawyer in Washington familiar with these issues and is investigating whether he could transfer the money to the Democratic Party.

"It upsets me -- I'm the same person they gave the money to," he said. "I'm sure they'd support me for Congress, too."

Although he said he dislikes fund raising, Ruppersberger said he has always been able to raise enough to get his message out and expects to be able to do so again, regardless of what happens to the $1.6 million.

Ruppersberger will be running for the seat vacated by Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., who is seeking the Republican nomination for governor.

Democrat Oz Bengur, an investment banker from Ruxton, also has filed for the seat. Also considering runs are three Republicans: former U.S. Rep. Helen Delich Bentley, Del. James F. Ports Jr. and two-time gubernatorial candidate Ellen R. Sauerbrey.

Ruppersberger said he is confident he will succeed based on his record as county executive.

"I'm really getting excited about this, to find ways to help local government," he said. "Unlike any of these other people, I'm from local government. I know what we need -- schools, roads, infrastructure, that's what it's all about for me."

After facing only token opposition in his 1998 re-election campaign and winning handily in 1994, Ruppersberger said, he's eager for a good race. He said he relishes the opportunity to lose some weight by walking in his new district, knocking on doors and talking to prospective constituents.

"To me, it's like a sporting contest," he said. "And I love sports."

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