Townsend raises $100,000 at event at uncle's house

Senator Kennedy plays host at fund-raiser

May 23, 2002|By David Nitkin | David Nitkin,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON -- Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend collected an estimated $100,000 last night for her Democratic gubernatorial bid during a closed-door fund-raiser at the Washington home of her uncle, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.

"Teddy has been extraordinary to me," Townsend said, describing her relationship with her uncle. "We love him very much."

The event attracted business executives, lawyers, union leaders and politicians from across Maryland who nibbled on shrimp and sipped wine inside the white-columned, marble-foyered home in Northwest Washington of the Massachusetts senator.

"It's kind of fun to come over and be part of this," said Philip W. Hoon, a land-use lawyer from Chestertown who attended the $1,000-a-ticket event.

Dr. Levi Watkins, a Johns Hopkins heart surgeon, said he knew Townsend's father, the slain Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. He said he hoped his presence would not anger Mayor Martin O'Malley, who has not decided on opposing Townsend in the race, or Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., the leading Republican candidate. "I like O'Malley, I like Ehrlich, but I'll be supporting her," Watkins said.

Asked if he regularly attended political events, J. Craig Venter, former president of Celera Genomics Group, said, "I've tried to avoid them." But he said he is backing Townsend because of her support of biotechnology.

Townsend's quest has accelerated in recent weeks: State law prevented her from accepting contributions during the legislative session, which ran from January through April.

She has raised more than $6 million for her run for governor, compared with $2.3 million for Ehrlich.

Edward Kennedy has also coordinated a fund-raiser for nephew Mark K. Shriver, the state delegate from Montgomery County who is running for the 8th District congressional seat.

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