The Republican National Committee, frustrated by what it perceives to be a lack of progress on the part of Robert A. Pascal's gubernatorial campaign, will not help him in the Maryland governor's race this fall unless Pascal shows a significant upsurge in name identification between now and Labor Day, according to Republican party sources.
The national committee's resources are considerable. It can provide financial assistance, campaign advisers, and additional help on election day.
Before it gives that help, the committee generally believes 65 percent of voters polled statewide should recognize a candidate's name. Although Pascal is Anne Arundel county executive, his name identification hovered at about 30 percent in May and he has only begun to campaign strenuously to overcome that problem in the last two weeks.
"Name identification is only important in terms of how it relates to money," said Carol Whitney, director of the Republican Governor's Association, a campaign arm of the national committee. "For a governor's race you really need even more than 65 percent to get the money you need to win. Right now, Pascal doesn't have the money he needs to win.
"We're certainly not throwing up our hands and saying the hell with it," Whitney added. "We've won longer shots than this one. The Pascal campaign didn't show us a heck of a lot early but they've made a lot of progress lately."
Pascal reacted angrily yesterday when asked about his relationship with the national committee. "We've got a game plan for this campaign and we're following it," he said. "If they say they are frustrated because I won't take their advice that may be legitimate because we're running an unorthodox campaign and I'm an independent kind of guy. Some candidates may run down there for advice every week. I don't. I think I know more about running a campaign in Maryland than they do.
"These guys think you should start campaigning when you're baptized. They forget I had another job to do as county executive. We're going to win this race with or without the national committee although it would be easier to do it with them."
According to Pascal's financial disclosure form filed yesterday, the campaign has raised $333,000 thus far, of which all but $15,000 has been spent. "We're going to raise a lot more money and I think more will be forthcoming from the national committee," Pascal said.
One Maryland Republican summed up the national committee's feeling yesterday: "They think he (Pascal) has blown it. They've told him time and again what he should do and he's ignored them."
Another source added: "The feeling at the committee is that unless Harry Hughes falls off the state yacht, he's reelected."
The committee's frustration dates back to the spring when staffers repeatedly urged Pascal to hire a full-time professional campaign manager. Instead, Pascal hired a three-day-a-week consultant, Fred Roberts. One month later, Roberts was fired and replaced by Bob DeStefano, a longtime Pascal friend. The national committee was so delighted that Pascal finally had hired a full-time manager it agreed to pay DeStefano's salary.
According to sources, that was the only advice from the committee that Pascal followed. He did not begin campaigning extensively statewide early as the committee urged or go on television before July, as was suggested.
"If the RNC targeted Maryland it would be a tremendous boost for Bob Pascal," said state party chairman Allan C. Levey. "The kind of support they can provide can make a big difference the last 30 days, especially in terms of putting together the media blitz he's going to need to win. I still think Bob's going to show them that his campaign is worth their time and effort before this is over."
Pascal's relationship with the national committee always has been tenuous because of his lukewarm support of President Reagan. Because Hughes was viewed early in the race as vulnerable, the committee was willing to work with Pascal as long as he listened to some of its advice.
Bill Greener, one committee spokesman, said yesterday that the committee still supported Pascal and wanted to help him, but he acknowledged that "anytime there is a contest where you feel you can knock off a sitting member of the other party and you are not where you want to be, there's going to be frustration."