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  •   Curry Event Raises Funds,
    Reinforces Upscale Image

    By Robert E. Pierre
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Friday, May 22, 1998; Page B04

    Hundreds of people plopped down $1,000 each last night to eat crab cakes and steamed shrimp, listen to live jazz and show their support for Prince George's County Executive Wayne K. Curry (D), who added $300,000 to a reelection war chest now approaching $1 million.

    Curry's only announced opposition thus far is tax lawyer Randy McRae, a 38-year-old Republican who is a newcomer to politics. But Curry said nothing is a sure thing.

    "It's important to campaign as hard as you can all the time," Curry said as he greeted the more than 300 guests who arrived at his spacious Upper Marlboro home.

    The event attracted politicians and business and civic leaders, including Washington Wizards General Manager Wes Unseld, boxing promoter Rock Newman and Maryland Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein.

    Attendees such as N. William Jarvis, a Washington resident who is the chairman of D.C. Council member Jack Evans's mayoral campaign, came even though they can't vote for Curry. "Prince George's is happening," said Jarvis, who is vice president and general counsel at WETA public television in Arlington. "This is the place to be."

    Those are just the kind of responses Curry and other county political leaders dreamed of when Curry was elected in 1994 as the area's first African American county executive, stating that Prince George's represented the ideal of a functioning interracial democracy. Curry said the ethic mix of the crowd was a perfect example of that dream.

    And the night was also representative of the kind of upscale image that Curry has sought to promote since taking office. Mercedes-Benzes, Lincolns and limousines lined the streets in Curry's neighborhood of executive-size homes.

    "It's the kind of thing we want to symbolize," Curry said, noting that the number of people willing to contribute $1,000 was evidence of the good job he has done in reducing crime, promoting economic development and devoting money to schools.

    There were also gubernatorial politics at play last night. Harford County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann (D), who is running for governor, was working the crowd and took a moment to take a shot at incumbent Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D).

    "This is a celebration of the way Wayne Curry has turned Prince George's around after the way Parris Glendening left it," Rehrmann said.

    Curry has been openly critical of Glendening, his predecessor as county executive, for leaving a $108 million deficit and most recently for not working hard enough to secure the exact terms of a pact with the NAACP and the county's school board to end forced busing.

    Last night, Curry publicly thanked Rehrmann for attending. But he did not say which way he was leaning in the governor's race. Nonetheless, he made it clear that he will throw his financial support behind the county and statewide candidates he supports.

    "We will not be discounted and ignored as the important political force Prince George's County represents," he said. "It's important to have resources to advance your causes. I can help people who support me and help them get their messages out."

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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