Howard leads commissioner candidates in fundraising race

August 20, 2006|By LAURA MCCANDLISH | LAURA MCCANDLISH,SUN REPORTER

One Republican candidate from Eldersburg is giving the three incumbent Carroll County commissioners a run for their money.

Doug Howard, an entrepreneur whose Sykesville- based company helps establish small businesses in the county as well as in two other states, has raised more than any other challenger: $9,800 since announcing his candidacy in September.

Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge, a four-term incumbent, has also raised about $9,800 since the election cycle began in 2003, according to campaign finance records. The first pre-primary finance reports had to be filed with the state by Tuesday.

Howard, 41, said his business background would fill a void on the Board of Commissioners when it comes to managing the budget process. Running his Sykesville-based accounting/consulting business also has helped him manage his campaign, he said.

"One of the first things we did was develop a strategic plan for the campaign, the same thing I would do to start a new business -- budgets, timetables, same kind of thing," Howard said. "However, the biggest challenge was every time the race changed, because a new district map required a new strategic plan."

Populous South Carroll didn't gain a district for this election, since the state's highest court ruled in June that three commissioners would still be elected at-large. But the region produced early GOP challengers with the biggest purses.

Michael D. Zimmer, 42, another Eldersburg resident, has raised $7,440 since November; Woodbine resident C. Eric Bouchat, 38, trails him with $7,360 raised since December, according to finance reports.

With $10,800 amassed since 2003, Commissioner Dean L. Minnich has raised more than all 12 other commissioner candidates. Commissioner Perry L. Jones Jr.'s pre-primary report was not available online, but his campaign reported $4,650 in the bank in January.

Incumbents have amassed larger campaign chests than their challengers in all of Carroll's state House of Delegates and Senate races.

In South Carroll's District 9B, Del. Susan W. Krebs has pulled in $71,030 since she took office in 2003, finance records show. She had $49,250 left to spend as of last week, compared with the $6,370 her GOP challenger, Larry Helminiak, said he has left to spend.

Helminiak, 66, finished second to Krebs in the 2002 election, trailing her by 209 votes in the six-candidate Republican primary race.

"Last primary, less than 5,000 people voted," said Helminiak, who has some prominent billboards along Liberty Road in South Carroll. "I can't imagine you would need $50,000 to reach 5,000 people."

In the crowded District 5A GOP primary, incumbent Dels. Nancy R. Stocksdale and Tanya T. Shewell also have outpaced their challengers.

Shewell, 62, has raised $31,400 since she was nominated for the seat in 2004; Stocksdale, 72, had raised $33,370 by January.

Challenger Haven N. Shoemaker Jr., currently mayor of Hampstead, has raised $8,980, plus the $21,000 of his own money that he pumped into his campaign.

Shoemaker, 41, has spent all but $5,300 of those funds on signs and campaign materials. He circulated stickers at the Hampstead fireman's carnival every night last week. He's also one of the few candidates to put up a big billboard, at a cost of $1,000 a month. One stands prominently on westbound Route 140 now; two more are coming, one to eastbound Route 140 and one near the TownMall of Westminster, Shoemaker said.

"I'm making an investment in my campaign," Shoemaker said. "If I'm going to ask people for support, I have to put up or shut up."

Trailing Shoemaker is C. Scott Stone, a school board member, with $4,580. Kevin R. Utz, a Westminster city councilman, has raised $2,690 in that race.

The two candidates challenging incumbent Del. Donald B. Elliott in District 4B reported no campaign contributions this year. GOP candidate Bob Lubitz of Westminster put $5,000 in his campaign; Democratic candidate Timothy Schlauch put up a $2,000 loan. Elliott, of New Windsor, has raised more than $21,000 since 2003.

In the only Senate race with two Carroll County residents -- District 5 -- incumbent Sen. Larry E. Haines has nearly 10 times as much funds left to spend as his GOP challenger, Michelle Jefferson. Haines has $26,570 in the bank, compared with Jefferson's $2,800. Of the commissioner candidates, Howard spent the most on his campaign, with only $980 left in the bank.

laura.mccandlish@baltsun.com

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