OCEAN CITY -- The governor denied it, but on the early gubernatorial campaign trail yesterday Democratic contenders staged dueling fund-raisers -- a kind of political surf and turf.
On the beach in Ocean City, Gov. Parris N. Glendening raised about $30,000 for his 1998 re-election campaign at an event arranged by local businessmen.
Meanwhile, at Martin's West in Woodlawn, House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. of Allegany County raised at least $250,000, which campaign officials said was a conservative estimate.
More than 800 people, including most of the state's top Democrats, attended at least part of the two-tier Woodlawn event. About 225 people attended a $500-a-ticket VIP reception before the $100-a-ticket main event, which was attended by about 600 people.
Taylor, who is considering a primary challenge to Glendening next year, praised the teamwork of his fellow Democrats on the federal, state and local levels -- many of whom stood on the stage behind him.
Among the Democrats at the "Tribute to Taylor" were Harford County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann, who has announced her candidacy for governor, and Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, who also is considering a challenge to Glendening.
Most of the Annapolis lobbying corps attended Taylor's fund-raiser, as did most of the traditional big-money Democratic supporters, such as bakery magnate John Paterakis Sr. and Baltimore businessman Calman "Buddy" Zamoiski.
Glendening's hosts in Ocean City said they were backing him early because they were grateful for his promotion of tourism and his opposition to casinos and slot machines.
"This governor stood tall against a looming threat of gambling," said Ocean City's Mayor Jim Mathias.
He, the governor and Sheraton Hotel owner Leonard Berger spoke briefly to about 50 guests who paid $1,000 a couple.
Glendening called the suggestion of competition between Taylor and himself "silly." He said last night's event will be followed by at least a dozen similar, though perhaps less public, fund-raisers this summer.
Eleanor M. Carey, one of Glendening's top aides who attended Taylor's fund-raiser, echoed the governor's remarks. "I think people are making too much of Ocean City," she said.
Carey said she attended Taylor's event last night because "I support him for speaker."
Not everyone at the Ocean City event had decided whom to support in the 1998 race.
Del. Rose Mary Hatem Bonsack, a Harford County Democrat, for instance, said, "I've got lots of people to consider: My speaker, my governor and my county executive.
L "When you like all three, it's a big problem," Bonsack said.
But there was no equivocating from many who attended last night's event, which was at the Sheraton.
Said Berger: "We need dynamic people like Parris Glendening to bring important economic development programs to fruition."
And restaurant owner Shirley Phillips, referring to the beach replenishment work paid for by the state after major storms, said knowing the support is there is "a comforting feeling for all of us."
Last night's reception for Glendening was one of the first publicly announced fund-raisers for the governor in recent months. An accurate report of his campaign's cash-on-hand will not be possible until November when the next reports are due at the state election board.
Pub Date: 6/26/97