Townsend holds lead in fund raising

Democrat has raised $3 million more than Ehrlich, reports indicate

GOP has made strides since Nov.

Cash gives her campaign edge as period of costly TV advertising nears

Election 2002

August 13, 2002|By Howard Libit | Howard Libit,SUN STAFF

With less than three months to go until the November election, Democrat Kathleen Kennedy Townsend has raised almost $6.7 million in her bid for governor, about $3 million more than what has been collected by Republican Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

Campaign finance reports to be filed today with the state elections board also show that Townsend has about $4.5 million cash on hand, compared with about $2.8 million for Ehrlich. That gives Townsend a significant edge as the campaigns prepare for the crucial fall period of expensive television advertising.

"Make no mistake about it, we will have the resources to communicate the lieutenant governor's record, vision and message for Maryland in the coming weeks, right up to the general election," said Townsend campaign spokeswoman Kate Philips.

But since the last reports in November, Ehrlich has raised about $1 million more than Townsend -- a point the Baltimore County congressman stressed as a sign that his campaign is gaining momentum.

"We love the trend lines. We were looking for bigger numbers from the other side," Ehrlich said.

Fund-raising summaries provided by the two campaigns last night show that Ehrlich has raised more than $3.2 million since Nov. 8, and a separate account for his running mate, Michael S. Steele, has collected about $80,000.

By contrast, Townsend raised about $2.2 million during the same period, and an account established for her running mate, retired Adm. Charles R. Larson, took in almost $100,000.

A Townsend campaign spokesman dismissed Ehrlich's $1 million edge over the past nine months, noting that as a state officeholder, Townsend was prohibited from raising money during the 90-day General Assembly session.

The total raised by Townsend already exceeds the record $6.4 million raised by Republican gubernatorial candidate Ellen R. Sauerbrey during the 1998 campaign. Gov. Parris N. Glendening spent about $6.2 million in his successful re-election effort that year.

At this point in the 1998 campaign, Glendening had raised almost $3.9 million, while Sauerbrey had collected slightly less than $3 million. "Every dollar we raise is a new Maryland state record now," said Townsend press secretary Len Foxwell.

Both campaigns say they will need millions of dollars for what they expect to be a barrage of television advertising in the final few weeks of the campaign -- particularly in the pricey Washington market.

TV ads costly

Townsend released two biographical television ads last month. Much of the $237,000 she spent on media since November went to produce those ads and purchase time on Baltimore network stations and Washington cable channels, Philips said.

Neither campaign was able to provide details yesterday on the percentage of out-of-state donors, the percentage of donations from political action committees and the proportion of large and small donations. Reports from all candidates for state office must be sent to the elections board by today.

Ehrlich said his fund raising saw a significant boost after Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley announced in June that he would not enter the Democratic primary. Ehrlich said about 45 percent of his money has been raised since O'Malley's announcement.

"We're now averaging over $1 million a month, and we expect to keep doing that," said Ehrlich, who has 30 fund-raising events scheduled for this month.

Ehrlich goal: $8 million

Ehrlich has said his goal is to raise about $8 million by the Nov. 5 election, and he said yesterday he is on pace to reach that target. Townsend and her staff have refused to publicly discuss any fund-raising targets.

"Our goal is to keep working hard to make sure progressive Democrats stay in the State House," Philips said. "We have no specific target."

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