ANNAPOLIS -- Calvert County Democrats have happened upon a fund-raising plan other political organizations can only envy: They have managed to win the $5,000 grand prize of their own fund-raising raffle.
Instead of raising $10,000 from the event as planned, the county's Democratic Central Committee will net the entire $15,000 brought in from the sale of 150 tickets at $100 apiece.
The way they managed this feat was unexpected and completely above board, said Gerald W. Donovan, mayor of Chesapeake Beach, owner of the Rod and Reel Restaurant there and chairman of the county's Democratic organization.
He said when party regulars began selling tickets to their annual raffle, they persuaded state Democratic Party Chairman Nathan Landow to buy one. He did so with state party money, intending the purchase to be a donation to the county organization. But when a schoolgirl was asked to pluck the winning ticket from a hat at a Democratic Party picnic in Calvert County on Saturday, she picked Mr. Landow's ticket. He was not present, and state party officials said they learned of their $5,000 in winnings by telephone.
"When people donate to that, generally, nobody expects to win it. They expect a fair shot, and everybody got that," Mr. Donovan said. "All our people were at the picnic standing right there."
The state party still could pocket the winnings, but Thomas Cowley, executive director of the Maryland Democratic Party, said that is not what Mr. Landow wants done.
So, at a Central Committee meeting next week in Calvert County, Mr. Cowley said he is going to accept the winning check, then turn it back over to Calvert County Democrats.
"We're going to be very grandiose and generous and contribute it to the [county] Central Committee," Mr. Cowley said. "They raised the money and did the work. It is great."
Mr. Donovan, still surprised at the turn of events, said, "It will be a windfall for our little Democratic Party, and it is strictly legitimate."
"It was a good fund-raiser," he said. "It just turned out to be better than what we thought it was."