Robey ahead of challengers in fund raising

His $100,000 cash is triple that of GOP rivals together

Spending strategies differ

Other candidates' reports reveal diverse resources

Election 2002

August 14, 2002|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

Howard County Executive James N. Robey has more than three times as much political campaign money as his two Republican rivals combined, according to reports filed yesterday, but even he is not impressed.

"I raised a third of what my opponent raised four years ago, and I won," he recalled yesterday about the 1998 contest.

The first reports due since November showed Democrat Robey with $100,000 cash on hand, compared with $30,000 for Republican Steven H. Adler and less than $1,500 for Adler's opponent, Clark J. Schoeffield. Adler and Schoeffield will face off in the primary Sept. 10. The winner will face Robey in November.

Because of its relatively small size, political campaigns in Howard County typically do not require the huge amounts of cash that running in larger jurisdictions such as Baltimore and Montgomery counties do.

But numbers can conceal as well as reveal, Schoeffield noted.

Virtually all of his campaign kitty came from a $24,000 loan from himself because of his last-minute entry into the contest. But the fruits of that money -- the direct mail, signs and other items he has ordered -- have not yet landed on voters' doorsteps, he said. He is prepared to lend himself a bit more, but he is actively trying to raise money, he said.

"It always feels special being the underdog," he said, laughing. "I think my [slower growth] message is more appealing to most of Howard County."

Adler, who reported raising $56,237 and spending $26,000 of that, said his is the broader, more complete message -- addressing a range of issues from the budget shortfall to affordable housing. He called Schoeffield "a single-issue candidate."

Adler plans to raise more money, he said, and is making up in personal campaigning what he lacks in cash. "I'm out there, door-knocking and sign-waving and doing a bunch of stuff that Jim's not doing," Adler said.

For his part, Robey said the $175,000 he has raised is about all he will need, though he has one more $35-a-ticket event planned this fall.

"I just want enough to run the campaign I want to run," he said, regardless of what other candidates have. For the general election, he plans to produce a commercial for cable television extolling his administration's accomplishments over the past four years.

The bulk of his contributions came from the business community, though one $4,000 gift came from a Korean-American family in Ellicott City that Robey said he has never met.

Other financing reports reflect the candidates' diversity of resources -- and sometimes their disparities.

The two Democrats vying in the primary for west Columbia's District 4 County Council seat, for example, show very different approaches to fund raising.

Mary Kay Sigaty reported raising $7,505 through Aug. 6, but spending only a small portion of that. She reported having nearly $5,200 left.

Ken Ulman, her opponent, spent on polling alone $5,000 of the $42,390 he raised. "It shows a good number of people support us," Ulman said, stressing that he is depending on street campaigning, not his big financial edge, to win the primary.

Sigaty said she is on track to raise and spend the $10,000 she budgeted for the primary campaign. "I'm right on target," she said, noting that many of Ulman's contributors are from outside Howard County.

The range of financial effort is evident in other reports, too.

Neil F. Quinter, a Democrat running for House of Delegates in crowded District 13, reported raising $45,000 -- though $20,000 was a loan from himself. That is more than 10 times the $3,475 Pearl Atkinson Stewart reported raising for the same race, while Ada Bohorfoush reported $16,283, though $6,800 came from her family and herself.

The hotly contested District 13 state Senate race has attracted some bigger money, with Republican incumbent Sandra B. Schrader reporting $29,745 raised, including $4,500 she lent herself, with $16,701 left on hand.

C. Vernon Gray, the Democrat running for that seat, reported raising $68,961, including an $18,000 loan from his family, while spending $40,500.

Among other candidates, Del. Frank S. Turner reported raising $49,000 since the last election and spending $9,300, while Del. Shane Pendergrass collected $75,700 overall and has about $50,000 left to spend.

By contrast, Republican Bob Adams, also running for a delegate's seat in District 13, showed $16,336 collected and $3,800 left to spend. And Republican Del. Robert L. Flanagan raised $21,932 and has spent $18,883.

Incumbent Councilman Guy J. Guzzone, a Democrat, reported $42,778 raised, with roughly half left; Diane Wilson, a Republican also vying for that seat, showed $6,632 raised and $3,022 spent. Council Republican Allan H. Kittleman collected $27,748, according to state elections board electronic filings.

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