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  •   Glendening Rival Gets $300,000 Boost

        Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke stands by his candidate for governor during the fund-raiser for Eileen M. Rehrmann at the city's convention center.
    Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke stands by his candidate for governor during the fund-raiser for Eileen M. Rehrmann. (By Susan Biddle/TWP)
    By Robert E. Pierre
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Wednesday, May 27, 1998; Page B04

    BALTIMORE, May 26—Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke turned out hundreds of this city's business elite tonight for a fund-raiser for the upstart campaign of Harford County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann, collecting $300,000 for the Democrat who wants to be Maryland's next governor.

    Schmoke stood at Rehrmann's side nearly the entire night, posing for pictures and personally introducing her to those who paid $1,000 each to attend the soiree at the Baltimore Convention Center. It is exactly the kind of hands-on approach Schmoke has taken for the last month since he sent shock waves through the state Democratic Party by abandoning Gov. Parris N. Glendening.

    Schmoke distanced himself from Glendening after disputes over gambling and other issues, issuing a strong rebuke of the governor during his speech endorsing Rehrmann on the steps of Baltimore's ornate city hall. The mayor has continued his effort to convince voters that Glendening is not trustworthy, accusing him of reneging on several promises to Baltimore. The governor has consistently denied Schmoke's allegations.

    "We need someone who says what she means and means what she says," Schmoke told tonight's crowd of about 300 people.

    Political observers say Rehrmann, a two-term executive and former state legislator, is going to need all the money she can get if she's going to upset Glendening, who has a sizable war chest and the advantage of the bully pulpit of his office.

    The most publicized issue dividing Rehrmann and Glendening is slot machines. Schmoke and Glendening have quarreled over whether to allow slot machines at three Maryland horse racing tracks. Schmoke said Glendening promised to support legalized slot machines and generate revenue for city schools. Glendening denied making the promise, and he has adopted the mantra of "No slots. No casinos. No exceptions." Rehrmann supports slots.

    Neither Rehrmann nor Schmoke mentioned slots during prepared remarks. But among tonight's attendees were Maryland racetrack owner Joseph A. De Francis, a strong advocate of slots at the racetrack, and baking magnate John Paterakis, who wants slots at a new downtown hotel he is developing.

    Bob Leffler, president and owner of the Leffler Agency, an advertising firm representing Pimlico racetrack and the Baltimore Ravens, said that bringing slots to Maryland is an issue of competition.

    "If everyone out there has them and we don't, it's eventually going to hurt," Leffler said.

    Opponents of slot machines say the state already is saturated with the lottery, horse racing and other types of legal gambling. A few protesters known as the Coalition Against Gambling Expansion helped stage an anti-gambling rally outside tonight's fund-raiser, waving signs reading "Schools Not Slots."

    "There is already enough gambling in Maryland," protest organizer Kay Dellinger said. "We are opposing any candidate who is for expanding gambling in Baltimore."

    Schmoke's endorsement of Rehrmann led many in the party to publicly criticize the mayor. But Schmoke contends that Rehrmann is the Democrats' best chance to defeat likely Republican nominee Ellen R. Sauerbrey, who lost to Glendening by only 6,000 votes in the 1994 governor's race.

    Schmoke has been working on Rehrmann's campaign almost as if it were his own, raising money and knocking on doors with Rehrmann and alone. Schmoke noted that tonight's $300,000 take was more than three times the $91,000 he raised in 1994 at a fund-raiser at his home for then-candidate Glendening.

    "It's not easy for a mayor to say, 'I'm not going to support an incumbent governor,' " Rehrmann said. "He's been there by my side."

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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