The maritime industry and its allies in organized labor have come up with $250,000 to step up their controversial campaign for "cargo preference " legislation as the bill awaits a vote on the House floor.

The promotional drive put together by Gerald Rafshoon Advertising Inc. of Atlanta began this week with a series of daily commercials on Washington television stations and a flurry of newspaper advertisements in Washington and New York.

"We wanted to call attention primarily to members (of Congress) that there is bill (pending ) and to repeat and refine some arguments made earlier" said Stephen Lesher. Washington based vice president of the Rafshoon agency. Which last year was in charge of advertising for President Carter's election campaign.

The campaign for the cargo preference bill, which Carter endorsed in Cabinet-level advisers is being finance by the U.S. Maritime Committee. A self-style "coalition of shipbuilders, ship operators, marine suportive industries and seagoing and on-shore unions." Formerly known as the Committee to Turn the Tide, the organihad already spent $750.000 on a nationwide advertising drive last spring while the President was considering the issue.

The Carter-backed legislation would require that nearly 10 per cent of the nation's oil imports be brought here in U.S. flag tanders manned by American crews.

The Maritime Administration, which has been the prime advocate of cargo preference within the administration, has insisted that the Carter plan would cost consumers only $110 million a year in higher oil prices.

But the General Accounting Office estimated this week after lengthy study that the legislation is more likely to add $550 million to $160 million a year to the nation's fuel prices - more than five times the admininistration's estimate. In addition, the GAO said the measure "will cause a net loss of employment" because of indirect effects that will outweigh gains in maritime jobs.

Republican congressional leaders have assailed the measure and charged that Carter's endorsement was "a blantant political pay off" for election-year support from the maritime lobby, but the House Merchant Marine Committe approved the bill several weeks ago after squelching GOP demands for further hearings.

Committee Chairman John M. Murphy (D.N.Y.) is expected to ask the House Rules Committee next week for an early floor vote. Rep. paul N. McCloskey (R. Calif), the ranking GOP member of Murphy's committee, said he will continue to press for more hearings. But House Speaker Thomas P.(Tip) O'Neill Jr. (D.Mass) has already rejected his complaint.

The renewed TV campaign for cargo preference began here Sunday and rill run four weeks. The newspaper ads began in yesterday's editions of The Washington Post. The Washington Star and The New York Times.