Rehrmann fund-raiser brings in $60,000 Event hints at start of gubernatorial bid


EDGEWOOD -- Harford County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann raised an estimated $60,000 last night at a fund-raiser that could mark the beginning of a 1998 Democratic primary challenge against Gov. Parris N. Glendening.

Most of the state's top Democrats, from U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski to Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, attended the event in Edgewood, joined by more than 500 Rehrmann supporters.

Tickets were $50 for the main event and $250 for a VIP reception beforehand.

Rehrmann, 52, a Democrat from Bel Air, said she had not decided whether to run for governor.

"I'm looking at a run for statewide office," said Rehrmann, who is prohibited by law from running again for county executive. "I'll be making a decision in the next couple of months."

The event, billed as a tribute to Rehrmann, took on a comic tone after state Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein took the stage and reminded the crowd that he is running again for re-election. Goldstein greeted "Democrats, Republicans and independents, all working for Eileen to run for governor in 1998."

He seemed to catch the crowd off-guard by voicing what many believed to be her intention for next year.

"She has her eyes on that big State House in Annapolis," Goldstein said.

By announcing he was running again for comptroller, an office Rehrmann also is considering, he made it clear that she should consider another office.

Schmoke came to the stage and was joined by four county executives, three of them Democrats -- Wayne K. Curry of Prince George's County, Douglas M. Duncan of Montgomery County, C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger of Baltimore County -- Republican Charles I. Ecker of Howard County, and members of the so-called "Big 7" -- leaders of the state's largest jurisdictions.

"I have here a letter from the governor," Schmoke said.

The executives then acted as if they had lost the letter, prompting gales of laughter from Rehrmann's supporters.

Ruppersberger, Duncan and Curry have been mentioned as possible challengers to Glendening, whose popularity has only recently begun to rise in the polls. On the Republican side, Ecker is weighing a run next year against Ellen R. Sauerbrey, who has made it clear she will run for governor after her 1994 loss to Glendening.

Each praised Rehrmann's leadership ability and sense of humor. Earlier, Mikulski made similar remarks, saying, "She's a leader, she's effective, and she has a framework for the future."

Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes and Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, the 3rd District congressman, also mentioned frequently as a potential challenger to Glendening, were expected, but instead attended a wake in Prince George's County for Judith E. Hoyer, wife of 5th District Rep. Steny H. Hoyer.

Maryland House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr., an Allegany County Democrat who is weighing a run against Glendening, was scheduled to speak, but could not attend because of a meeting at the State House about the visit Monday by President Clinton.

Rehrmann, wearing a red business suit, strode to the stage as a recording of "Taking Care of Business" played.

"Leadership that works."

"We need more leadership," she told her supporters. "We have a great county, we have a great region and we have a great state -- and it's going to get even better."

Afterward, Schmoke dismissed questions about the significance of the number of elected officials in attendance.

"It's too early to start trying to get involved in what we might do in some future election," he said.

Mikulski said: "It's all very clear that this was not an endorsement for governor."

But, she added, "We wanted to show she was respected statewide and keep her visibility high."

Pub Date: 2/08/97

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