Sarbanes takes lead in race to raise funds for campaign

Beilenson, Hollinger also report strong efforts for quarter, survey says

April 14, 2006|By JOHN FRITZE | JOHN FRITZE,SUN REPORTER

Attorney John P. Sarbanes, son of five-term Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, appeared to raise more money than his competition in the crowded field of candidates for Maryland's 3rd District congressional seat, a survey of campaigns showed yesterday.

Sarbanes will report raising about $234,000 in the first three months of this year, according to campaign staff, more than former Baltimore Health Commissioner Dr. Peter L. Beilenson, state Sen. Paula C. Hollinger and at least a half-dozen other candidates.

"I think our campaign is catching on, and a lot of people are hearing about us and are excited for a new voice of leadership," said Sarbanes' campaign manager Pia Carusone.

Meanwhile, in Maryland's U.S. Senate race, officials with former congressman Kweisi Mfume said the campaign will report raising about $200,000 for the quarter - significantly less than the other leading candidates in that race, who pulled in about $1 million each.

Most federal campaigns will be required to file a financial disclosure statement with the Federal Election Commission this weekend detailing how much money has been raised in the first three months of this year, who it was raised from and how it was spent.

In the sprawling congressional 3rd District - which includes portions of the city and Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Howard counties - a wide field of candidates from both parties have lined up to replace Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, who is running for U.S. Senate. Anne Arundel County Executive Janet Owens, a Democrat, may also join the field.

Beilenson appeared to have the second-best effort in that race, bringing in about $192,000 during the quarter with $267,000 on hand. Hollinger, a 26-year veteran of Maryland politics who announced her candidacy in July, followed with $182,000 raised and at least $230,000 on hand, though campaign officials said they were still calculating the total.

"We've been running a very active campaign, and we are looking forward to success in September," said Beilenson, who took the early fundraising lead.

Bob Doyle, a consultant for Hollinger, said the Baltimore County senator spent much of the quarter engaged in the legislative session and predicted much higher fundraising now that the General Assembly is adjourned.

The three - Sarbanes, Beilenson and Hollinger - were also the top fundraisers for the fourth quarter of 2005, according to reports filed at the time. Financial strength may be an early indication of support, but many observers note that the best-funded campaigns are not always the most successful.

One of the more surprising reports expected to be filed this weekend will be Gary Applebaum's, who said he raised $136,000 in the first quarter. Applebaum, a physician, is one of only a handful of Republicans running in the overwhelmingly Democratic district.

"I'm very encouraged by the strong support I'm receiving," Applebaum said in a statement. "Clearly, Marylanders are looking for people with a fresh view, positive vision and definite solutions to our major challenges."

Primaries are scheduled for Sept. 12, and it is still unclear who will be in the running at that point. Owens has not announced her candidacy, but did form a committee to raise money and, this month, purchased a home in the district.

Businessman Oz Bengur, who lost a 2002 campaign for the 2nd District congressional seat, said he will report raising $140,000, with $145,000 on hand.

Kevin O'Keeffe, a former top-level aide to the governments in Baltimore City and Anne Arundel County, said he raised about $37,000 during the period, with $124,000 on hand.

Several other candidates could not be reached for comment yesterday, and former WMAR-TV reporter Andy Barth was not ready to disclose numbers.

john.fritze@baltsun.com

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