The good citizens back in the Maryland suburbs witnessed a unique political sideshow in recent days, as Bowie's 44-year-old mayor, Audrey Scott, went door-to-door peddling $1 raffle tickets to earn enough money to go to the Republican National Convention here this week.
Scott had been eager to win a delegate's seat at this, her first national convention. She worked hard, outpolling all contenders in her congressional district. Then, having spent $200 to win the chance to go, she found she would have to spend at least another $1,000 to take advantage of it.
"They told us to plan on (spending) $1,000, and I just don't have $1,000," explained Scott. So she decided to hold a low-budget raffle, offering her friends $1 chances to win a $40 trip to Atlantic City, N.J., complete with salt water taffy. She netted more than $400.
The less enterprising members of the Maryland contingent -- 30 delegates and 30 alternates -- found other ways to cut the cost of serving the Republican Party. Some of them ventured across the turnpikes in carpools to avoid the $140 to $190 round-trip airfare. Others are sharing rooms at the Dearborn Holiday Inn, to cut down living expenses.
The expenses here add up very fast, even with state party functionaries scurrying around looking for special group rates. The charter airfare was $140 round-trip between Baltimore and Detroit. Single hotel rooms at a Holiday Inn are $36 a day. A $35 check guarantees free bus trips to and from Cobo Hall downtown, where convention sessions are held.
That's $355 right there, without a cent spent for food, drink or merriment. In Detroit, all three of these items are going to cost.
Take merriment. It begins Sunday night for the party faithful with an hour-and-a-half cocktail party entitled "A Star Spangled Evening." Prices: $100 a person, $150 a couple, with the money going to the Republican National Finance Committee.
This is followed by dinner grandly dubbed, "With One Voice -- a Unity Gala." Price: $1,000 a plate. The profits go to umbrella campaign committees for senatorial, congressional and gubernatorial candidates.
The next morning is the poor man's fete -- a $15-a-head prayer breakfast.Tuesday is the Young Republicans' afternoon reception for presumptive presidential nominee Ronald Reagan and his wife, Nancy, costing $25 a head. Nine Maryland delegates and alternates, led by delegation cochairman Rep. Robert Bauman, are attending this -- along with more than 400 other people.
Finally, there is the $25-per-person "Tribute to Republican Women" luncheon on Wednesday -- an affair that, its organizers say, will lose more money than it takes in.
"It gets pretty expensive after awhile," said delegate George Price, a former state assemblyman who farms cattle in northern Baltimore County. "I think I got one $100 invitation. But you're pretty tied up. If you stick together as a delegation, you don't have time for the parties."
Retired Marine Corps Brig. Gen. James P. S. Devereux, who attended his last convention in 1956, said, "I don't think these people realize how much it costs a delegate for transportation and lodging and all. And I'm taking my wife." He did, however, accept "two or three" invitations. How much did it cost? "Too much."
"I'm going to the Star-Spangled-opening thingamajig," said delegate Barbara Chinn. "It's $100. It breaks my heart, but my husband said that you only go to these things once. But politics seems to amount to money all the time. It mounts up."
Not that the Maryland delegation is ready for welfare. All but eight of the 30 delegates list their annual household income as more than $35,000. Some like J. Glenn and George Beall and Louise Gore, are from old, wealthy Maryland families.
But others, like Virginia Church, wife of a stereo salesman in Harford County, were distinctly taken aback by the expenditures the party seemed to expect. "I got a call last week from the Republican National Committee asking why I hadn't responded to the invitation for the Star Spangled Dinner," she said. "I said I wasn't sure I could afford it."
The same call came in to Frances Eagen, who resides near the southern tip of Maryland where her husband works as a consultant. "I tried to explain to (Party Chairman Bill) Brock's secretary that we're the workers of the party and the workers don't have the money," Eagen said. But she wasn't sure the explanation sufficed.
"I knew in the beginning this was going to cost," Eagen added. "But I didn't know about all the invitations that would come in. They're just using the conventions as one big fund-raiser for everybody."
Which is why Audrey Scott decided to go out to raise funds for herself. "I told my Democratic friends that they ought to buy tickets because it'll get me out of town for a week," she said.
"But when I told people I'm raffling off a trip to Atlantic City so I could go to Detroit, everybody said I'm getting second prize."