Donations Pour In For Baker's Next Try

By Ovetta Wiggins and Nelson Hernandez
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, January 29, 2009

Rushern L. Baker III, who is planning a third run for county executive next year, raised more than $210,000 last year, the most of any of the candidates vying for Prince George's County's top job.

Baker (D) said he was humbled by the response.

"We've been able to get the message out there," he said. "I really believe that people were willing to donate because they believe I will make a strong run."

With the huge amount of contributions, many from businesses, along with a prior cash balance of about $228,000, Baker was able to repay more than $317,000 in debt from previous campaigns and other expenses. He is left with about $40,000 cash on hand.

Baker's likely opponent, State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey (D), raised about $56,000 last year and has $114,000 cash on hand. Included in Ivey's list of contributors was President Obama's nominee for attorney general, Eric H. Holder Jr., who donated $4,000 in November. Ivey served a year under Holder as an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia from 1990 to 1994.

Another probable candidate for county executive, Sheriff Michael Jackson (D), raised less than $2,000 last year, but he has the most cash on hand, $231,000.

A financial report for County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D) was not available from the Maryland State Board of Elections on Tuesday.

More School Funds Sought

The Prince George's County school system added $12 million to its request for state school construction funding last week, addressing worries by some state officials that the district was overlooking schools in most need of renovation.

The Board of Education voted unanimously Thursday night to ask the state for money to plan work on five schools ranked in the top 10 in an independent study of buildings that needed renovation. The elementary schools added are Avalon (ranked No. 2), Henry G. Ferguson (No. 3), Samuel Chase (No. 4), Clinton Grove (No. 5) and Tulip Grove (No. 7) . The school in the county most in need of repair, Morningside Elementary in Suitland, is on a list of a dozen schools that might be closed next year.

The supplemental request increases the Board of Education's school construction request to $100.4 million. The board's previous request of $88.4 million came under fire from Sen. Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert), the Maryland Senate president, who accused county officials of "political pandering" in choosing to work on other schools.

Miller was backed by the Interagency Committee on School Construction, which is headed by State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick. Last month, the committee, which has a great deal of power over which requests get funding, wrote a letter to county officials inviting them to submit an amended request, which the school board has done. The request will go through County Executive Jack B. Johnson and the County Council.

Bottom Line Questioned

Delays and cost overruns are a common hazard of large construction projects. But when money is tight and the school board gets to vote on paying a bill, the third degree can be expected from board member Rosalind Johnson (District 1).

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