Ehrlich benefits from developers, industry sources

Car dealers, energy firms also gave funds recently

90% of money came from Md.

But Townsend still leads by a $2.3 million margin

Election 2002

August 31, 2002|By Michael Dresser and Sarah Koenig | Michael Dresser and Sarah Koenig,SUN STAFF

Developers, auto dealers, energy companies and port businesses were among the interests that helped Republican Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. raise more than $620,000 in a 2 1/2 -week period this month for his campaign for governor.

The GOP candidate, whose fund raising eclipsed that of Democrat Kathleen Kennedy Townsend during the period, raised more than 90 percent of his money from Maryland sources, according to campaign finance reports filed yesterday.

Townsend's fund raising, meanwhile, seemed to melt away during the Aug. 7 to Aug. 25 filing period. She took in only $126,000, with 73 percent of it coming from in-state sources. The lieutenant governor still holds the overall lead in the money race, having taken in $6.8 million to Ehrlich's $4.5 million.

Yesterday's reports were the last due before the Sept. 10 primary, in which neither Townsend nor Ehrlich faces a serious contest.

Ehrlich enjoyed conspicuous success at three industry-themed fund-raisers -- a $500-a-ticket event for auto dealers and related businesses; a $1,000-a-ticket gathering with port interests; and a $1,000-a-ticket meet-and-greet for builders and developers.

The GOP candidate raised at least $37,500 from development interests during the period, continuing a record of strong ties with industry, which is traditionally Republican.

One developer, Baltimore County's Thomas F. Mullan III, was Ehrlich's largest benefactor, delivering $10,000 through three corporate entities.

The auto dealers kicked in at least $12,000, while port interests contributed at least $13,500. Energy interests accounted for at least $11,500.

Ehrlich said he never arrived at the fund-raiser for car dealers this month, but was not surprised by their support. His father was a salesman at Archway Ford in Arbutus for 37 years.

"I grew up at that dealership," Ehrlich said yesterday.

Real estate developers, for whom he held an event Aug. 19, also have been steadfast donors to his congressional campaigns, Ehrlich said.

"They know I am the more pro-business-oriented candidate," he said.

Ehrlich has told developers he supports conducting a "land inventory of the state, to figure out what's on-limits and what's off-limits" in terms of development."

Townsend's biggest benefactor during the reporting period was the Maryland State Teachers Association's political arm, which gave $10,000 to Townsend and her running mate, retired Adm. Charles R. Larson.

The Service Employees International Union pitched in with $6,000.

Townsend's biggest corporate benefactor was Citigroup, which donated $6,500 through two political action committees, bringing its total to $10,000.

Peter Hamm, a spokesman for the Townsend campaign, dismissed the significance of the August fund-raising gap, noting that the campaign held no fund-raising events during that period.

Hamm said the campaign has a full schedule of fund-raisers scheduled for September.

"Our fund-raising is going quite well, thank you," Hamm said. "We're going to have enough money to win the election."

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