Ehrlich passes Townsend in fund raising

His $8.6 million collected tops her $7.9 million

Most expensive governor's race

But GOP candidate has less cash for final ad push

Election 2002

October 25, 2002|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF

Republican Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has blown past Kathleen Kennedy Townsend in the political fund-raising race, collecting money at four times the rate Townsend did over the past two months.

Buoyed by polls showing him neck-and-neck with Townsend, Ehrlich will report today that he has raised $8.6 million in the most expensive governor's race in Maryland history.

Townsend, a Democrat, will report that she has raised almost $7.9 million.

Ehrlich moved ahead by collecting a remarkable $4.1 million -- or $73,000 a day -- from Aug. 26 to Oct. 20. Townsend raised only $1 million during that period, despite fund-raising appearances by former President Bill Clinton and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Because she spent more slowly, however, Townsend has more cash in the bank for the final push -- about $2.3 million to Ehrlich's $1.6 million.

With his fall fund-raising burst, Ehrlich has already exceeded the $8 million he had said he would need by the election Nov. 5 to mount a winning campaign.

"Most of the things that have unfolded in the campaign have not surprised me, but this has," Ehrlich said yesterday. "It's been an incredible development. Almost all of it comes from in-state, and a lot of it is Democratic."

Peter Hamm, a spokesman for Townsend, said it comes as no surprise that a Republican would raise more money than a Democrat. He said Townsend is in a good position because she has more money in the bank than Ehrlich.

"Cash in hand is the ballgame," Hamm said. "I don't know if he's ordering fresh flowers for his office every day. We're very careful to preserve resources for television advertising, which is what a modern political campaign is all about."

Ehrlich spent about $5.8 million over the two-month period, compared with $3.4 million for Townsend.

His spending may be having its intended effect as the two campaigns compete to win over a dwindling pool of undecided voters. A Gonzales-Arscott poll taken in August showed Townsend ahead 47 percent to 43 percent. A survey released by the same pollster this week showed Ehrlich ahead 47 percent to 46 percent.

Ehrlich's campaign broke the Maryland Republican fund-raising record of $6.4 million set by Ellen R. Sauerbrey in her unsuccessful 1998 run against Gov. Parris N. Glendening. Townsend had exceeded Glendening's Democratic record of $6.2 million when she filed her August report.

The fund-raising frenzy by the two campaigns shows that the political "arms race" in Maryland continues unabated. Ehrlich collected more money in less than two months than William Donald Schaefer took in during his entire 1986 campaign for governor.

Single event helped

Almost half of Ehrlich's two-month take came from a single event -- an Oct. 2 fund-raising visit to Baltimore by President Bush that raised $1.8 million.

By contrast, former President Clinton's Oct. 18 visit to Baltimore raised about $750,000 for Townsend. Senator Clinton's Oct. 16 appearance in Montgomery County raised about $100,000.

Ehrlich's total includes $400,396 raised in the name of his running mate, Michael S. Steele. Townsend's includes $516,960 raised jointly with retired Adm. Charles R. Larson, the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor.

The two campaigns released summaries of their fund-raising reports -- the last before the election -- yesterday. The full reports, showing who contributed the money and how the campaigns spent it -- are due to be filed today.

Both candidates are continuing to raise money daily, and each has scheduled appearances by national political figures -- former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani for Ehrlich and former Vice President Al Gore for Townsend.

Confident about ads

Asked whether he will have enough money to mount an aggressive television ad blitz in the final days before the election, Ehrlich expressed confidence that he could match the effort of Townsend and outside organizations that support her.

"We have to raise more than she does because she has her groups on television and radio, running ads for her," Ehrlich said. Townsend has been the beneficiary of anti-Ehrlich ads paid for by labor, environmental and gun control groups, among others.

Ehrlich's fund-raising prowess impressed political veterans such as GOP activist Carol Hirschburg, who called the totals "fantastic."

"Everybody I know has given till it hurts -- me included," Hirschburg said.

Matthew Crenson, a political science professor at the Johns Hopkins University, said Ehrlich likely benefited from a heavy infusion of money from out of state. "With that kind of money, it's got to be more than just Maryland," he said.

Crenson said Ehrlich's fund-raising success is no guarantee he will beat Townsend. "The polls are still too close and getting closer," he said.

Sun staff writer Howard Libit contributed to this article.

Campaign fund raising, These figures show the amount of money raised and spent by Republican Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and Democrat Kathleen Kennedy Townsend in their campaigns for governor.

....................................EHRLICH............TOWNSEND

Raised 8/26-10/20...$4,086,000............ $1,001,000

Spent 8/26-10/20... $5,766,000..............$3,365,000

Cash on hand........ $1,581,000............. $2,266,000

Total raised............ $8,630,000.............$7,878,000

Source: Ehrlich and Townsend campaigns

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