- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 20, 2006

Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons will be the host of a campaign fundraiser Thursday for Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele’s run for U.S. Senate.

The fundraiser for Mr. Steele, a Republican who would be the state’s first black U.S. senator if elected, will be held at the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park in Baltimore.

Also scheduled to participate in the event are Cathy Hughes, founder and chairman of Radio One, a black-run broadcasting company specializing in urban markets, and hip-hop pioneer DJ Kid Capri.

Tickets to the reception are $35. VIP reception tickets are $500. An estimate of how much the event will raise was not available.

Ms. Hughes and Mr. Simmons, the man behind the Def Jam Recordings music label and the platinum-plated careers of acts including the Beastie Boys, LL Cool J and Run-DMC, embody Mr. Steele’s message of economic opportunity, campaign spokesman Doug Heye said.

“These are both people who not only built extremely successful companies but companies that are actively involved in their communities,” Mr. Heye said. “It goes to what Mr. Steele talks about in building legacy wealth.”

Mr. Simmons, who often has used his music empire to advance liberal political activism, has backed the Republican administration in Maryland.

He applauded Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican, in February 2005 for winning over black voters with urban initiatives, especially criminal-justice reforms, and raising the Republican Party’s profile among blacks nationwide.

“He raised the whole party up,” Mr. Simmons said at the time. “He makes every Republican open for discussion” among black voters. Mr. Simmons campaigned in 2002 for Mr. Ehrlich’s Democratic rival, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, and said he initially had negative impressions of both Mr. Ehrlich and Mr. Steele. But he says the Ehrlich administration has demonstrated that both men “should be held up to the light as examples” of Republican leaders who are committed to all of their constituents.

• Fill ‘er up

Five of the Democrats running for D.C. mayor all acknowledge they are hooked — on gas-guzzling, inefficient cars.

“I drive a big, black Range Rover; it’s an SUV,” said Michael A. Brown, a lobbyist. “It’s terrible on gas, but I can’t help myself.”

Mr. Brown was the first to tackle the question, “What car do you drive and is it an SUV?” during a candidates forum at the Earth Conservation Corps in Southeast last week.

Adrian M. Fenty was next to answer, following up Mr. Brown’s honesty with a confession of his own.

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