Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin continues to outpace his Democratic rivals in fundraising for next year's Senate race in Maryland, according to quarterly estimates released yesterday by several candidates.

Cardin said he raised almost $900,000 during the quarter that ended Sept. 30 -- about nine times what his best-known Democratic rival, Kweisi Mfume, the former congressman and NAACP leader, raised during the same period, according to an Mfume adviser.

Cardin's campaign said it has raised more than $2 million since he entered the race in late April. Mfume has raised about $230,000 since entering the race in March, according to his campaign.

Reports on the past quarter's fundraising are due Saturday.

Cardin said in a statement that he was humbled by "the outpouring of support that I've received from voters in every region of the state."

Joe Trippi, an Mfume adviser, played down the widening gap between the two candidates.

"The character of this campaign is not going to be measured by a quarterly report," Trippi said, suggesting that polls probably will show a much tighter race.

Several Democrats who entered the race in recent weeks have had limited time to raise money.

Allan Lichtman, an American University professor who declared his candidacy two days before the end of the reporting period, said he had generated $250,000 from mortgaging his Bethesda home and $13,000 from friends.

A spokesman for Lise Van Susteren, a Montgomery County psychiatrist, said she was not ready to report a fundraising total. Figures also were unavailable from Joshua Rales, a Montgomery County businessman who entered the race after the reporting period ended, and A. Robert Kaufman, a Baltimore community activist.

A spokesman for Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, the leading Republican hopeful, said he was not ready to report a figure raised by his Senate exploratory committee.