Sluggish start to fund raising

THE POLITICAL GAME

Ehrlich: Early IRS figures show the GOP gubernatorial candidate's campaign treasury is less than impressive.

April 30, 2002|By David Nitkin and Michael Dresser | David Nitkin and Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF

REP. ROBERT L. Ehrlich Jr.'s three-month fund-raising advantage in the governor's race just ended.

So how'd he do?

Just fair, according to a report filed recently with the Internal Revenue Service.

Ehrlich's IRS filing said he raised $414,089 during January, February and March, a less-than-overwhelming figure in a campaign against Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.

As a state elected official, Townsend was prevented from raising money during the 90-day General Assembly session, which included nearly all of that period. Before that, her fund raising totaled roughly $6 million for the current election cycle. Her last report - showing $3.3 million in available cash - was filed in November.

Ehrlich aides said they submitted the IRS report out of caution: Staffers aren't sure whether IRS Section 527, which covers certain political organizations, applies to them. But they figured they'd disclose the amount anyway. Townsend did not have to file a similar report.

"These are incredibly complex IRS regulations, and in the absence of any clear interpretation or guidance from the IRS, we decided to file them," said Paul E. Schurick, Ehrlich's political director.

Schurick said the report does not accurately reflect the GOP candidate's true take because it leaves out contributions of less than $200 and includes less than half of the money from a March 25 fund-raiser.

Ehrlich will need between $6 million and $8 million for an effective campaign, Schurick said, adding that he has raised about $1.9 million to date. Schurick believes that many donors are waiting for Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley to decide whether to challenge Townsend in the Democratic primary.

"There are a lot of political contributions sitting idle right now, waiting to see the ultimate outcome," Schurick said.

Kagan says she won't seek another term in legislature

Del. Cheryl C. Kagan, a colorful and quotable lawmaker from Montgomery County, surprised colleagues and supporters last week by announcing she would not seek re-election to the General Assembly this year.

The two-term Democrat from Gaithersburg, who was first elected in 1994, had been regarded as ambitious and up-and-coming, with an eye on higher office. The high-tech-oriented Kagan made her announcement on her Web site, telling supporters she did not have to hold office to be a public servant.

Kagan, 40 and recently married, acknowledged becoming impatient with the slow pace of the legislative process and the long years it takes to rise to a position of power in the House of Delegates. "There are a lot of talented members of the House whose talents are not being used as well as they could," she said.

Kagan had openly flirted with the notion of running for state Senate. Until last week, she hadn't ruled out challenging Montgomery Sen. Jennie M. Forehand in the Democratic primary.

Kagan's announcement set off a flurry of rumors, including one that she might be a lieutenant governor candidate for O'Malley if he decides to run for governor. She laughed off the idea, noting that she has endorsed Townsend.

There is little chance that Kagan will disappear from the political fray. She vowed to work hard this year to elect "pro-choice, pro-ICC [Intercounty Connector], independent-minded Democrats" in the county.

Group names Townsend `Irish Lawyer of the Year'

O'Malley, lead singer of the Irish band O'Malley's March, has staked his claim as the leading celebrity of Maryland's Celtic set. But a group of Irish lawyers has made sure that Townsend has her own Emerald Isle bona fides.

Last week, the lieutenant governor was named "Irish Lawyer of the Year" by the Daniel O'Connell Law Society, an organization of Irish-American lawyers in Maryland.

Townsend, a graduate of the University of New Mexico School of Law, was a deputy assistant attorney general in the U.S. Justice Department. The society was apparently undeterred by the fact that she has never practiced law in Maryland.

"She was the consensus choice of the board of directors," said Gerard F. Devlin, a retired Prince George's County district judge and the law society's president.

O'Malley, also a law school graduate, was not considered for the honor, Devlin said.

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