Robert A. Pascal, the anointed Republican candidate for Governor of Maryland, drained a cup of coffee and shook his head the way a man does when he has a problem and no solution.
"I've gotta get some TV in Washington soon," he said. "I want to start before the end of this month. But you need money to do that. Right now, I haven't got enough."
Twenty-three floors above the darkened Baltimore Hilton Hotel restaurant where Pascal sat, Lawrence Hogan Jr., chief aide to his father, Prince George's County Executive Lawrence J. Hogan, who is a candidate for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate, talked about TV prices. "We can get ads on during off hours on the Eastern Shore for like $20. Washington and Baltimore, you're talking $3,000 a pop."
One floor up, sat Dallas Merrell, a Montgomery County businessman who is Hogan's only announced primary opponent. "We just aren't ready financially to go into Baltimore and Washington with ads yet," he said. "Right now, we have to stick to the Eastern Shore and Western Maryland."
For Pascal, Hogan and Merrell, for the entire Maryland Republican Party, which held its semiannual convention here this weekend, money--or lack of it--was a key issue. This was a convention without power. No one was nominated or endorsed. The Hogan forces considered asking the convention to endorse a candidate but pulled back, fearful they did not have the votes to win a majority.
What was at stake was the support of about 200 party workers who showed up, aware of just how important fund-raising will be in this money-tight year: The main workshop of the convention was on local fund-raising, how to solicit smaller, noncorporate contributions. The Republicans know that without the power of incumbency to bring in large contributions on the state level they must secure numerous local contributions to win elections this year.
For Hogan and Merrell it is particularly vital because they must meet in the Sept. 14 primary. For Pascal, the primary is a formality; the Anne Arundel County executive is unopposed.
There have been grumblings that Pascal is taking too long to truly launch his candidacy, and many in the party are upset because he is still nowhere close to choosing a running mate and Pascal himself has been frustrated by what he calls too little media coverage of the campaign.
But when Pascal walked onto the convention floor this morning, the proceedings literally came to a halt. State Party Chairman Allan C. Levey saw Pascal and his wife, Nancy, and stopped what he was doing.
"I'm now going to change the agenda to introduce the next governor of our state," Levey announced.
Pascal's relaxed approach to this convention was in stark contrast to the near life-and-death approach taken by the Hogan and Merrell forces. Hogan showed up with a bevy of supporters, all in green baseball caps or straw boaters. Merrell couldn't resist a jibe: "When I get up to make my speech, I may start by welcoming all the Prince George's County employes," he said.
Merrell had fewer supporters present, but they were visible in their blue straw hats. Especially easy to pick out were his four daughters, all of whom were dressed in identical white blouse-blue dress outfits.
The senate candidates were undoubtedly less-than-delighted when former Sen. J. Glenn Beall Jr., looking tan and rested, showed up today. Beall is still weighing the possibility of getting in the race.
"I'll make a decision before the end of the month," he said.
Hogan and Merrell each delivered a long, gung-ho speech, carefully avoiding direct attacks on each other, though they each lambasted incumbent Democratic Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes. Hogan openly identified himself with President Reagan, while Merrell did not.
While the two men adhered to the Republican's 11th commandment--"thou shalt not attack another Republican"--their forces were not as genteel.
Before the lunch at which the men spoke, Hogan's people plastered the dining room with 29 "Hogan for Senate" signs. When Merrell supporters went in to hang one giant "Merrell, U.S. Senate" sign behind the dais, the Hogan forces--led by Hogan Jr.--objected vociferously, saying their Merrell sign would cover one of Hogan's signs.
"I thought there was going to be a fight," said one Merrell worker.
"I told them, put up your sign, fine, but not on top of ours," Hogan Jr. said. Party Executive Director Charles Ransom finally intervened, ordering that the Merrell sign be folded in half so that it would be above, but not atop the Hogan sign.
Then, there was the question of who would not speak first. The Merrell people had suggested alphabetical order, conveniently giving them the second position. The Hogan people called for a coin flip. Debate raged throughout the morning before a coin was finally flipped and Hogan, the winner, opted to speak second.
While the Senate candidates skirmished, Pascal held court. His hospitality room included a Jacuzzi and was larger than the Senate candidates' suites put together. Pascal's speech, which played on his familiar themes of Democratic Gov. Harry Hughes' failed leadership and Pascal's work with the young and the old in Anne Arundel County, was half as long as the Senate candidates' speeches.
Pascal left before either candidate for the Senate spoke, so he could go to a ceremony attended by Baltimore's Democratic Mayor William Donald Schaefer, whom Pascal hopes will covertly support his candidacy because of his well-publicized disagreements with Hughes. Pascal did not want to miss Schaefer. The Senate candidates' speeches, he could miss.
So Pascal slipped away from his party's convention early. Unlike Hogan and Merrell, he could afford to