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  •   $3 Million Collected by Sauerbrey

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    By Scott Wilson
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Saturday, August 15, 1998; Page C01

    Ellen R. Sauerbrey has collected almost $3 million for her gubernatorial campaign, the most ever raised by a Maryland Republican, setting the stage for a general election in which she will compete on a more even financial footing with the Democratic governor.

    Sauerbrey and her running mate, former U.S. attorney Richard Bennett, have collected almost $2 million since the last campaign finance filing 10 months ago, bringing their total this election cycle to $2.96 million. The campaign has $1.4 million on hand, almost as much as Sauerbrey spent during the entire campaign in 1994, when she narrowly lost to Parris N. Glendening (D).

    Helping fill her campaign treasury are numerous large donations that did not come Sauerbrey's way four years ago when she was considered a long shot. But she is also spending far more than she did in 1994 on a professional campaign organization; after once relying almost entirely on volunteers, Sauerbrey has already paid more than $500,000 in salaries for political staff and consultants, the report shows.

    The information is part of Sauerbrey's campaign finance report to be filed Tuesday with the State Administrative Board of Election Law, but it was provided early by a Sauerbrey campaign pleased with its fund-raising progress. The Glendening campaign said the governor's filing was not ready yesterday, but campaign officials said he will submit a report next week with a larger cash balance.

    Photo of Ellen Sauerbrey and Parris Glendening
    Sauerbrey and Glendening are the frontrunners for their parties' nominations. (File Photo)
    "We're going to have raised more than $3 million, I can definitely tell you that," said Karen White, Glendening's campaign manager, noting that the governor hopes to raise $5 million for the November election. "We're absolutely on track for our fund-raising. We're doing well."

    But Sauerbrey has made significant strides in narrowing Glendening's financial advantage of four years ago. Then, Glendening outspent Sauerbrey by more than 3 to 1 and was able to mount a television advertising blitz that Sauerbrey had difficulty blunting. Glendening spent more than $6 million in 1994, setting a state record in doing so, and beat Sauerbrey by fewer than 6,000 votes. Struggling for donations, Sauerbrey accepted $1 million in public money four years ago and the spending limits that came with it.

    At the start of the year, Glendening set a $6 million campaign budget in the belief that his incumbency would make fund-raising at least as easy this time. But he has since scaled back his goal to $5 million after receiving lukewarm support from the Maryland business community.

    Business executives -- who have traditionally supported incumbent Democrats -- appear more willing to donate to Sauerbrey now that she appears to have a realistic chance of winning.

    Sauerbrey plans to raise the same amount as Glendening, allowing her not only to respond to Glendening's television advertising but to wage a media campaign of her own. Sauerbrey has already spent $138,000 on direct mail efforts, mostly fund-raising solicitations, and has only recently started advertising on television.

    "The expectation was that she would be far more successful this time around, and she certainly has been," said Herb Smith, a political science professor at Western Maryland College. "It evens out the playing field with Glendening."

    Sauerbrey, a former House of Delegates GOP leader, has worked hard since her 1994 loss to build the state's first GOP fund-raising operation to rival that of the traditionally dominant Democrats. A parade of national Republican figures have come through Maryland raising money, but the campaign is still awaiting financial support from national party committees.

    So far this cycle, Sauerbrey has raised $61,025 from political action committees, including those representing banks and developers. That is 2 percent of her total receipts so far. Four years ago, the PACs' contribution was 3 percent of her campaign receipts. Campaign officials expect more PAC support after the Sept. 15 primary.

    Sauerbrey is expecting even more help from outside the state.

    Three days after the primary, former president George Bush will headline an event for Sauerbrey, campaign officials said. Bush does not endorse in contested primaries, but he apparently is expecting Sauerbrey to defeat Howard County Executive Charles I. Ecker in the primary, based on polls that show her leading by more than 50 percentage points.

    Rep. J.C. Watts (R-Okla.) and former vice president Dan Quayle will also attend events on Sauerbrey's behalf in September.

    "People are voting with their pocketbooks," said Jim Dornan, Sauerbrey's campaign spokesman. "Ellen's support is very wide and very deep. It also shows . . . that this race is incredibly competitive."

    Staff writers Charles Babington and Daniel LeDuc contributed to this report.

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