A rugged construction worker whips off his hardhat, looks into the camera's eye and says, "What do I think of Larry Hogan? I don't like him."

Less than 60 seconds later, overwhelmed by an authoritative voice lauding Hogan's support of lower taxes, strong defense and voluntary school prayer, the worker puts out his upraised hand, saying, "Hey, I'm convinced. I'll vote for Hogan."

This one-minute miracle of mind-changing hit the airwaves this past week as the opening media shot for Hogan, the Republican Prince George's County executive who hopes to knock Democrat Paul S. Sarbanes out of the U.S. Senate. But opening shot or not, for the past year and a half, Hogan's way has been paved by a $500,000 television campaign against Sarbanes, orchestrated and paid for by the potent National Conservative Political Action Committee (NCPAC).

Indeed, in the final weeks of August, NCPAC added a new weapon to its arsenal of negative commercials by not only denigrating the liberal Sarbanes, but praising his conservative challenger.

Those spots amounted to another $70,000 of free advertising for Hogan's campaign.

While Hogan and his strategists insist that they have nothing to do with NCPAC, media consultant Jay Bryant, who is making Hogan's commercials, pointed out that the New Right group's tactics keeps Hogan from having to take on the nasty, and sometimes politically dangerous task, of attacking the incumbent.

"The negative things to be said about Paul Sarbanes have been said already," Bryant said with a mischievous grin.

NCPAC, which claims credit for defeating several liberal Democratic senators in 1980 and has targeted several others this year, generally sticks to heavy-handed, negative campaigns against incumbents. But in the Maryland race, NCPAC decided to run "comparison ads" lauding Hogan's record over that of Sarbanes. Because Hogan's name recognition is less than Sarbanes', the group is attempting "to get his name out . . . and show there is an alternative to the liberal leadership of Paul Sarbanes," according to NCPAC political director Vic Gresham.

NCPAC's ads against Sarbanes last year backfired, according to many Democrats, who said they brought national attention for the low-key senator and spurred a rush of early contributions to his treasury. Those ads began with the words, "Paid for by the National Conservative Political Action Committee as a service to the People of Maryland." However, on its most recent commercials, NCPAC's name flashes quickly on the screen at the end of the spot. Gresham said the less prominent name display was dictated by "the availability of time" on the shorter, 30-second ads rather than any desire to minimize NCPAC's role in the campaign.

Hogan campaign manager George Nesterczuk acknowledges that at least one viewer thought the NCPAC ads were Hogan's. "They're not," he said emphatically. "But we're really getting sucked into this. NCPAC is just doing their own thing, and we're somehow having to apologize for it."

Federal Election Commission rules prohibit independent political action committees, such as NCPAC, from becoming part of a particular candidate's campaign. If they coordinate their expenses with a candidate, they become subject to the FEC's $5,000 limit on campaign contributions. NCPAC's expenditures in Maryland already have exceeded that limit by hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Sarbanes has attacked NCPAC on the campaign trail as an "alien, extremist group" using "distortion and manipulation" against him. His new 4 1/2-minute biographical film, which is on the air this week, tells viewers, "when a radical right-wing group came into Maryland to attack Sen. Paul Sarbanes, most people resented it deeply." The film then moves to a shot of one constituent saying, "We don't need anybody from outside or anywhere else telling us how we should be Hogan Campaign: Pluses and Minuses of Conservatives' Action By Saundra Saperstein Washington Post Staff Writer

A rugged construction worker whips off his hardhat, looks into the camera's eye and says, "What do I think of Larry Hogan? I don't like him."

Less than 60 seconds later, overwhelmed by an authoritative voice lauding Hogan's support of lower taxes, strong defense and voluntary school prayer, the worker puts out his upraised hand, saying, "Hey, I'm convinced. I'll vote for Hogan."

This one-minute miracle of mind-changing hit the airwaves this past week as the opening media shot for Hogan, the Republican Prince George's County executive who hopes to knock Democrat Paul S. Sarbanes out of the U.S. Senate. But opening shot or not, for the past year and a half, Hogan's way has been paved by a $500,000 television campaign against Sarbanes, orchestrated and paid for by the potent National Conservative Political Action Committee (NCPAC).

Indeed, in the final weeks of August, NCPAC added a new weapon to its arsenal of negative commercials by not only denigrating the liberal Sarbanes, but praising his conservative challenger.

Those spots amounted to another $70,000 of free advertising for Hogan's campaign.

While Hogan and his strategists insist that they have nothing to do with NCPAC, media consultant Jay Bryant, who is making Hogan's commercials, pointed out that the New Right group's tactics keeps Hogan from having to take on the nasty, and sometimes politically dangerous task, of attacking the incumbent.

"The negative things to be said about Paul Sarbanes have been said already," Bryant said with a mischievous grin.

NCPAC, which claims credit for defeating several liberal Democratic senators in 1980 and has targeted several others this year, generally sticks to heavy-handed, negative campaigns against incumbents. But in the Maryland race, NCPAC decided to run "comparison ads" lauding Hogan's record over that of Sarbanes. Because Hogan's name recognition is less than Sarbanes', the group is attempting "to get his name out . . . and show there is an alternative to the liberal leadership of Paul Sarbanes," according to NCPAC political director Vic Gresham.

NCPAC's ads against Sarbanes last year backfired, according to many Democrats, who said they brought national attention for the low-key senator and spurred a rush of early contributions to his treasury. Those ads began with the words, "Paid for by the National Conservative Political Action Committee as a service to the People of Maryland." However, on its most recent commercials, NCPAC's name flashes quickly on the screen at the end of the spot. Gresham said the less prominent name display was dictated by "the availability of time" on the shorter, 30-second ads rather than any desire to minimize NCPAC's role in the campaign.

Hogan campaign manager George Nesterczuk acknowledges that at least one viewer thought the NCPAC ads were Hogan's. "They're not," he said emphatically. "But we're really getting sucked into this. NCPAC is just doing their own thing, and we're somehow having to apologize for it."

Federal Election Commission rules prohibit independent political action committees, such as NCPAC, from becoming part of a particular candidate's campaign. If they coordinate their expenses with a candidate, they become subject to the FEC's $5,000 limit on campaign contributions. NCPAC's expenditures in Maryland already have exceeded that limit by hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Sarbanes has attacked NCPAC on the campaign trail as an "alien, extremist group" using "distortion and manipulation" against him. His new 4 1/2-minute biographical film, which is on the air this week, tells viewers, "when a radical right-wing group came into Maryland to attack Sen. Paul Sarbanes, most people resented it deeply." The film then moves to a shot of one constituent saying, "We don't need anybody from outside or anywhere else telling us how we should be voting or what kind of representation we've had." voting or what kind of representation we've had."