Big-Money Md. Race Ready for Big Finish
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, October 24, 1998; Page C01
Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening entered the final days of his reelection campaign with more money to spend than Ellen R. Sauerbrey, despite a late burst of financial support for the Republican challenger.
Glendening (D) has raised more money than Sauerbrey for his reelection bid overall and appears to be saving his resources for a final advertising barrage before the Nov. 3 election. Recent polls show the race a tossup that could be decided by whoever can sway the most voters in the coming days.
As of last Sunday, Glendening had more than $1 million to spend before Election Day, compared with about $669,000 for Sauerbrey, according to new financial disclosure reports. So far, Glendening has spent just $41,000 more than his Republican rival over the course of the campaign, after more than tripling her spending in 1994, when he beat her by fewer than 6,000 votes.
But Sauerbrey has raked in more money than the incumbent over the last six weeks, according to campaign aides. Sauerbrey has collected $1.7 million since Aug. 31 $500,000 more than Glendening while spending $2.46 million over that period.
Almost all of Sauerbrey's recent spending has gone toward a television ad campaign that in some weeks has been more intensive than Glendening's. The ads have presented her as a moderate less interested in controversial social policy than in lowering taxes and improving education.
Glendening has spent $2.2 million over the last six weeks, mostly reminding voters through his own media blitz that as a state delegate Sauerbrey opposed abortion rights, gun control and certain environmental regulations.
"You don't want to overspend and leave yourself dry in the closing days," said Peter Hamm, a Glendening campaign spokesman. "Clearly, in some of the previous weeks, our opponent had larger TV buys than we did. But you have to maintain a sense of focus, keep your eyes on November third and husband your resources as need be."
"Our fund-raising is continuing and is going very well," said Carol Hirschburg, a Sauerbrey adviser. "We expect to have the money we need to do what we need to do."
The finance reports, which detail campaign account activity from Aug. 31 through Oct. 18, are the final disclosure required before Election Day.
Glendening and Sauerbrey are well on their way to setting a general election spending record for Maryland. The governor has collected $5.4 million for his reelection, surpassing his $5 million goal, while Sauerbrey has raised $4.95 million. In a sign of her changing fortunes, Sauerbrey raised almost as much money since Aug. 31 as she did for her entire 1994 campaign, which relied on public financing.
The Sauerbrey campaign yesterday did not provide a full disclosure, only a summary of its fund-raising and spending since Aug. 31. State law requires that the reports be postmarked by yesterday, and Sauerbrey's full report could be available as early as today.
Glendening's report indicates continued strong support from organized labor, which gave his campaign more than $18,000 in the last six weeks. Lawyers, utility companies and health care interests also gave generously to the incumbent, who is responsible for regulating many of those industries. He also received help from other Democratic officeholders, including $5,000 from Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan.
Moreover, Glendening is receiving substantial help from interest groups that are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on independent advertising to promote his candidacy. Such spending is unregulated by Maryland campaign law, as long as the groups don't coordinate with the candidate's campaign, so interest groups may spend more than the state's strict contribution limits on a candidate's behalf.
The Maryland Trial Lawyers Association, which already has given the Glendening campaign the maximum $12,000 contribution, began radio ads yesterday that criticize Sauerbrey's record. Attacking her stand against gun control, the ads intone: "We're crying to get guns off our streets. But Ellen Sauerbrey doesn't hear us . . . because Ellen Sauerbrey doesn't care about our neighborhood."
The lawyers' group, a longtime Glendening supporter, never spent money directly on advertising before this year. The ads will cost close to $100,000 and run through Election Day in all radio markets except in the expensive Washington suburbs.
Both candidates have been helped by money from national party committees, attracted by the race's closeness. The Maryland Republican and Democratic party committees have received tens of thousands of dollars from their national affiliates in so-called soft money, which is not regulated by state or federal election laws.
The Democratic State Central Committee did not file a campaign report yesterday, but it already had received $82,000 from the Democratic National Committee. The party has run ads promoting Glendening.
While such donations are not unusual for state Democrats, the Republican State Central Committee is receiving national party money in unprecedented amounts. According to finance reports, the state GOP has collected $105,000 from the Republican National State Elections Committee. The money has paid overhead costs and helped fund a direct-mail campaign and get-out-the-vote effort that has cost more than $90,000.
Metro Resources Director Bridget Roeber and staff researcher Sharon Fanning contributed to this report.