The man from Essex was pumping the hand of Prince George's County Executive Lawrence J. Hogan enthusiastically, waving a drink with his free hand and talking nonstop.

"I'm with you, Larry, I'm not going to let you down," he said. "You just got to get people to know you. You know?"

"I know," Hogan said with a wistful smile, getting his right hand back. "That's the problem."

Eight years ago tonight was Hogan's wedding night. He and his wife Ilona celebrated by attending a Hogan fund-raiser at the University of Maryland. The speaker was then-vice president Gerald R. Ford. Hogan was running for governor. He lost the Republican primary that year to Louise Gore.

Tonight, the Hogans celebrated their anniversary with a much smaller fund-raiser here in a small reception room. This time, Hogan is seeking the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. This time, he says, despite his name recognition problem in some places, despite the memories of 1974, he will win.

"We've done three polls and I'm way ahead of all the Republicans in all of them," he said tonight. "Dallas Merrell the only other committed Republican candidate thus far is going to have to raise $10 million to beat me. I'm still behind incumbent Democrat Paul S. Sarbanes but I've made quantum leaps in each poll."

Hogan says he hopes to raise $3 million during the campaign. Tonight's event cost $100 apiece for some, $25 for others including campaign workers and staff. About 75 people showed up. Rumors in the Republican party have it that Hogan is having difficulty raising money.

"Not true," Hogan said. "We've been having small fund-raisers like this for weeks now and we're doing quite well."

Hogan would not talk specifics and neither would his finance chairman, Jeff Ludwig.

Tonight's mood was one of quiet optimism. Anne Arundel County Executive Robert A. Pascal, who was next door at a Lincoln Day Dinner, stopped by long enough to shake hands and pose for pictures.

"I was invited so I stopped by," he said. "My showing up doesn't mean I'm supporting anyone right now."

Party chairman Allan S. Levey, who reportedly has been encouraging former hostage L. Bruce Laingen to run (that now appears unlikely) stopped in briefly and headed right for Lawrence Hogan Jr. the candidate's son. Merrell also appeared for a moment but did not speak to Hogan.

Hogan's son remembered 1974. "We've always done well with Democrats, you have to in this state," he said. "But last time he didn't work hard enough with Republicans. That won't happen this time. We know the Republicans are important."

Which is why, on a stormy night, on his wedding anniversary, Larry Hogan drove to Baltimore to collect a few dollars and shake a few hands.