The campaign of Maryland Gov. Harry Hughes, perceived to be comfortably in the black, reported a debt of close to $100,000 as of Sept. 28, according to financial reports filed today. Hughes' opponent, Republican Robert A. Pascal, thought to be financially strapped, reported campaign holdings of about $141,000.
That is not the total picture, however, because the Hughes campaign deposited $67,000 to its account shortly after the filing deadline and expects to raise another $150,000 at a fund-raiser next week.
The figures filed by the Pascal campaign do not include about $60,000 from a fund-raiser held two days after the deadline.
Still, Pascal staffers said today they were encouraged by the fact that, as of this filing, the incumbent had only raised about $100,000 more for the entire campaign than the challenger, or about $660,000 to $560,000.
"I think that's a sign that what we've been saying about the support for Hughes being soft is true," said Pascal spokesman Jerry Lipson. "That's very significant. In a three-to-one Democratic state running against an incumbent with all the trappings and power of the office, we're not that far behind."
Hughes spokesman Lou Panos replied simply, "They have said worse about our campaign before with an equal degree of accuracy. We remain confident but not complacent."
Included in this, the third of four filings that must be made before the general election, was a $50,000 loan made to the Hughes campaign by the Union Trust Co. Bank. The loan has 10 guarantors of $5,000 each, including Hughes, members of his finance committee and former secretary of state Fred Wineland. The eight non-politician guarantors are high-level businessmen around the state including William Boucher III of Baltimore, one of the chief financial strategists for the campaign.
"We made a decision not to have a fund-raiser in August because that's a terrible time to have one," Boucher said. "Instead we decided to hold off, take out the loan and then pay it all back with our October fund-raiser."
Boucher pointed out that the Hughes campaign already has paid off a number of its general election expenses. The Pascal campaign has paid almost none of that money to date.
Hughes spent almost $18,000 on several boat cruises for campaign volunteers held shortly before the primary. He also reported spending close to $15,000 on what was called "party unity contributions," known in the old days as walking-around money.
Such expenses included $1,000 for printing sample ballots and various primary day expenses in each of the seven legislative districts of Prince George's County, another $1,000 in each of several Baltimore city districts and $2,500 in Sen. Robert Douglass' Baltimore city district.
Hughes received contributions of $200 from a number of his cabinet members and staffers, and $100 from one cabinet member. One of his largest contributions, $4,000, came from the Maryland bankers' political action committee.
Hughes also got a $25 contribution from M. Albert Figinski, a legislative lobbyist. With the legislature not in session, Figinski maintains his normal law practice and is currently representing former Gov. Marvin Mandel, who is facing disbarment proceedings before the Maryland Court of Appeals.
A major difference between the two campaigns for this reporting period showed up in disbursements. The Pascal campaign reported receipts totaling $218,000 for the period and disbursed only $46,000. The Hughes campaign had receipts of $107,000 and disbursements of $158,000.
As of next week's fund-raiser, Hughes will have raised about $870,000 for the campaign, according to today's estimates, compared to about $635,000 for Pascal, who has one more major fund-raiser scheduled Oct. 30.
The key for both campaigns now is how much each will be able to afford to spend on television. Hughes plans to begin TV commercials this weekend and run them until election day.
Pascal has taped his commercials but asked for some revisions today, prompting an exasperated staff member to say, "This means we don't get on before next week and we'll only have three weeks."