Fundraising pace pleases Cardin's campaign

Contenders for Senate face report deadline

October 13, 2005|By DAVID NITKIN AND GWYNETH K. SHAW | DAVID NITKIN AND GWYNETH K. SHAW,SUN REPORTERS

U.S. Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin kept his Senate campaign fund-raising on pace during the third quarter of the year, raising close to $900,000 for a total of nearly $2 million available, his campaign said yesterday.

The figure appears to keep Cardin well ahead his Democratic rivals in the quest for cash, providing resources for television ads and direct mail pieces in areas of the state where the Baltimore County resident hopes to become better-known.

"We are way ahead of where we thought we were going to be," said Wayne Rogers, the former state Democratic Party chief who is Cardin's finance chairman. "It's nearly double where Ben Cardin has been in his congressional races. We are going to have the funds we need to take on an aggressive Republican campaign."

Cardin was the only candidate to publicize his fundraising numbers for the period ending Sept. 30 before the Saturday postmark deadline from the Federal Elections Commission, continuing a campaign strategy to portray him as the front-runner.

Only a few other Democratic contenders were willing to disclose such figures. Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, the likely Republican candidate, would not reveal how much he has taken in during the exploratory phase of his bid.

Cardin's most prominent Democratic rival, Kweisi Mfume, former national head of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, raised about $100,000 in the past three months, said Joe Trippi, his campaign adviser, in response to questions from a reporter. Mfume had reported raising $250,000 in the previous quarter, which included about $100,000 transferred from an old federal campaign account from when he was in Congress.

The Mfume campaign is in a strong position - with the election more than a year away -- even though it has not raised huge sums of money, Trippi said.

"Ben [Cardin] started out clearly on a run to raise a ton of money and get a bunch of endorsements to scare everybody else out of the race," Trippi said. "We're not getting out, and they're going to need every penny of that money."

A rush of Democratic candidates who recently entered the race show that Cardin's strategy isn't working, he said.

American University professor Allan J. Lichtman, a Democrat who entered the race last month, said he had more than $250,000 in the bank.

Lichtman said he mortgaged his Bethesda home and put $250,000 into his campaign account, and raised another $13,000 from family, friends and other donors who knew he had planned to enter the contest. He said his campaign had spent less than $5,000, and that he was looking forward to continuing to raise money while he tours the state.

Lise Van Susteren, a forensic psychiatrist and sister of FOX television personality Greta Van Susteren who also entered the race last month, would not disclose her fundraising.

Montgomery County real-estate developer and philanthropist Joshua Rales, who joined the contest this month, did not do any fundraising in the period that ended Sept. 30, campaign manager Robin Rorapaugh said. Rales has said he will spend $5 million of his own money on the campaign.

Steele has not formally entered the race, and has said he continues to listen to Marylanders and consult with his family about the election. His candidacy has strong support from the White House; presidential adviser Karl Rove hosted a $75,000 fundraiser for Steele in July.

"There's not going to be any number announced until the [Saturday] deadline," said Dan Ronayne, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which is coordinating Steele's efforts.

"Should the lieutenant governor decide to run," Ronayne said, "there is no doubt he will have the resources he would need to run a successful campaign."

The candidates are vying for the seat currently held by Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, a Democrat who is not seeking re-election.david.nitkin@baltsun.com gwyneth.shaw@baltsun.com

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