- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 2, 2002

President Bush will lend his support to Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. at a dinner tonight that is expected to raise more than $1 million for the Republican gubernatorial nominee.
The event will be the largest single fund-raising event in Maryland's race for governor.
The dinner will help close the approximately $2.3 million fund-raising gap between Mr. Ehrlich and Democratic nominee Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who has drawn on her national Democratic allies to break fund-raising records in Maryland.
The Ehrlich campaign says it is more interested in reaching its $8 million fund-raising goal than in measuring success against the lieutenant governor's war chest.
The most recent campaign finance reports, filed Aug. 30 with the Maryland State Board of Elections, showed that Mrs. Townsend raised a record $6.77 million to Mr. Ehrlich's $4.49 million. At that time, before either candidate began running TV ads, Mrs. Townsend had outspent Mr. Ehrlich by nearly $1 million $2.24 million to $1.35 million.
"We know that [the presidents visit] is going to bring in a significant amount of money, but we have to worry about closing in on our fund-raising goal, not closing any fund-raising gap," said Ehrlich campaign spokeswoman Shareese N. DeLeaver. "We always expected that she will raise more."
Miss DeLeaver said more than 1,000 people will pay $1,250 each to hear Mr. Bush speak at the dinner at the Hyatt Regency in Baltimore, and as many as 100 people will pay $4,000 each to attend a private reception for the president.
A sold-out event would raise more than $1.5 million.
The Townsend campaign is planning some high-profile events as well, with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton perhaps accompanied by her husband slated to attend a rally in Montgomery County this month.
The event is not billed as a high-dollar fund-raiser; tickets will cost less than $100.
Rather than raise big money, Mrs. Clinton's visit will showcase her support for Mrs. Townsend and seek to "engage all Marylanders and particularly women in the political process," said campaign spokeswoman Kate Philips.
"We want it to be an opportunity for everyone to hear our political leaders talk about issues and progressive Democrats in Maryland," Miss Philips said.
Mrs. Clinton also will visit Montgomery County tomorrow to raise money for Democratic state Sen. Christopher Van Hollen, who is running against Rep. Constance A. Morella, Republican, in the 8th Congressional District.
Miss DeLeaver said the race is garnering appearances by the country's top political figures because it has taken on national significance. "This has turned into a national race that is gaining national attention because we are in such a dead-heat race," she said.
Polls show Mr. Ehrlich edging Mrs. Townsend by a narrow margin, a significant gain for a Republican running in a state that has not elected a Republican governor since Spiro T. Agnew in 1966. Mrs. Townsend, the daughter of Robert F. Kennedy, previously led in the polls by 15 points, and was widely seen as the heir apparent to the governor's office.

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