- The Washington Times - Monday, January 30, 2006

Kweisi Mfume’s Senate campaign in Maryland is starting to look a lot like a Howard Dean campaign, with key former Dean aides working the Mfume political and fundraising machinery.

Lindsay Lewis, a fundraiser during Mr. Dean’s 2004 presidential bid, began working as Mr. Mfume’s campaign manager one week ago.

Walter Ludwig, who coordinated Mr. Dean’s campaign in Maryland, also joined the Mfume campaign a week ago.

And Joe Trippi, Mr. Dean’s one-time campaign manager, is doing political consulting for Mr. Mfume’s campaign.

“We’re here to take the campaign to the next step,” Mr. Lewis said.

Mr. Mfume, former chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), is in need of help to gain ground in the crowded Democratic primary race to replace Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, who is retiring.

“It’s not that I set out to get Dean people. It’s just that we’re all in the same ideological stratosphere. I think they were attracted to my campaign,” Mr. Mfume said last night after a debate in Olney.

Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele is expected to be the Republican nominee in the Nov. 7 general election.

The Mfume campaign raised $400,040 in 2005, Mr. Mfume said last night. He declared his candidacy in March.

“We’re competitive now,” he said. “We wouldn’t be in a statistical tie if we weren’t. We’d like to raise more. We’re on our own timetable.”

The latest fundraising numbers for Senate races won’t be released until tomorrow, but Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, a 10-term congressman from Baltimore, already has said he has raised $2.8 million since last spring and has $2.1 million on hand.

Meanwhile, Bethesda businessman Josh Rales plans to spend “several million dollars” of his personal wealth on his campaign and already has raised $452,313 in contributions.

In December, Mr. Mfume wrote an e-mail to supporters that said he thought he would need $4 million to win, according to the Hill newspaper. Mr. Mfume urged supporters to give money before the end of the year, saying that the end-of-year numbers would be “a crucial test of strength for my campaign.”

“The primary’s on September 12. We’ll have more than enough money to compete,” Mr. Lewis said yesterday.

He also said that his fundraising efforts would not rely solely on the Internet, which was the grass-roots campaign, based around the issues, just as the Dean campaign was.”

Mr. Dean ran his presidential campaign on the principle that he would raise money from large amounts of small contributions, instead of pandering to large donors.

But Donald F. Norris, a public-policy professor at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, said: “I don’t think a grass-roots campaign in Maryland is going to work very well. They’ve got to go where the money is and do it quickly.”

“If by the end of April, he hasn’t managed to raise a substantial amount of money, then his campaign is, for intents and purposes, over,” Mr. Norris said.

Mr. Lewis was finance director for Mr. Dean’s fundraising organization Democracy for America in 2004. When Mr. Dean became chairman of the Democratic National Committee in February, Mr. Lewis followed him there to serve as finance director.

Mr. Lewis resigned from the DNC in September, after the Republican National Committee had outraised the DNC 2-to-1 last year. When Mr. Lewis left, the DNC had raised $42 million and had $6.8 million on hand, compared with the RNC’s $81.5 million raised and $34 million on hand.

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