One of Maryland's racing industry leaders is taking sides in the Virginia gubernatorial race by throwing his support behind Mary Sue Terry, the Democratic candidate for governor.
In fact, Joe De Francis, owner of Laurel and Pimlico race courses, last evening sponsored a $500-a-head fund-raiser at the Centre Club in downtown Baltimore that was attended by a host of local notables, including Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and his political adviser, Larry S. Gibson.
About 45 people attended the event, intended to bolster Terry's chances in the Virginia gubernatorial election Nov. 2 against Republican George F. Allen.
De Francis was unavailable for comment, but Alan M. Rifkin, whose lobbying firm represents the track owner's interests in lTC Annapolis, said De Francis was merely supporting an old friend.
"The election is a very serious debate in Virginia between an extreme right-wing Republican and a fiscally conservative Democratic candidate," Rifkin said.
"They're old friends: Joe was a Washington lawyer and Ms. Terry was the Virginia attorney general."
De Francis is attempting to expand into Virginia by building a track there -- if approved by that state's racing commission -- and creating an interstate racing circuit.
But Mr. DeFrancis is up against stiff competition -- particularly from Churchill Downs of Louisville, Ky.
Campaign finance reports filed in Richmond, Va., Friday showed that Laurel and Pimlico already have given Terry a total of $10,000 of the $1.7 million in her war chest, as of Oct. 1.
Both Terry and Schmoke addressed the group, which included Del. Paul E. Weisengoff, a Baltimore Democrat who often supports the racing industry.