Harford County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann, with key assistance from Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, collected at least $300,000 last night at the Baltimore Convention Center -- her first major fund-raiser since declaring her bid for governor.
More than 300 supporters paid $1,000 a head to attend the fund-raiser for Rehrmann, one of three Democrats challenging Gov. Parris N. Glendening in the September primary.
Meanwhile, speculation about her possible running mate was rampant, with attention being focused on former Montgomery County Executive Sidney Kramer, who attended the event last night and had been at Schmoke's City Hall endorsement of Rehrmann last month.
Larry S. Gibson, Rehrmann's campaign manager and Schmoke's top political adviser, said no decision has been made on a candidate for lieutenant governor, but he did say that Kramer's name is among those "mentioned most often" as a possibility.
The fund-raiser brought together an eclectic group of Schmoke supporters, city officials, business leaders and representatives of the horse racing industry, who munched on crab cakes, shrimp, lamb chops, sliced beef and smoked salmon during the two-hour event.
Schmoke, who abandoned Glendening this year to throw his support behind Rehrmann, played host to the crowd and was obviously pleased with the results.
"To have this many business people from around the state support a challenger sends a good, strong message and shows a certain degree of dissatisfaction with the incumbent," the mayor said.
During his endorsement last month, Schmoke made clear that he was supporting Rehrmann because she supports legalized slot machines at Maryland's horse tracks, with the bulk of the state's share of the take going to education.
Glendening has declared that he does not support any expansion of gambling in the state.
About a dozen demonstrators from the Coalition Against Gambling Expansion gathered outside the Convention Center last night to protest Rehrmann's stand on slots, carrying placards with messages such as "Schools Not Slots."
"Mr. Schmoke endorsed Mrs. Rehrmann over the issue of slot machines, and we find that appalling," said Kay Dellinger, spokeswoman for the group. "We oppose any candidate who wants to expand gambling in Maryland."
Rehrmann, dressed in a light blue suit, in keeping with her campaign colors, kept her remarks brief, steering away from the issue of slots and instead focusing on the state's business climate.
She said that Maryland needed "a governor you can count on," echoing an anti-Glendening message that is becoming a campaign theme.
After her remarks, a recorded version of Billy Joel's "A Matter of Trust" played in the background -- a Gibson-orchestrated shot at Glendening, whose credibility and integrity are being questioned challengers.
Among the easily recognized supporters present were John Paterakis Sr., the millionaire Baltimore businessman who is close to both Schmoke and Rehrmann; former Anne Arundel County Executive Robert A. Pascal, a Republican and appointments secretary for former Gov. William Donald Schaefer; Dennis F. Rasmussen, the former Democratic Baltimore County executive turned lobbyist; and Arnold M. Jolivet, president of the Maryland Minority Contractors Association.
Not surprisingly, also among the supporters were Joseph A. De Francis, principal owner of Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park; co-owner Martin Jacobs; and racing industry lobbyists Maurice R. Wyatt and former Del. Paul E. Weisengoff.
Kramer, a businessman, would offer Rehrmann's campaign entree into Montgomery County, the battleground of this year's gubernatorial election. Some observers believe that he would be a strong addition to her ticket, able to raise money and attract some voters.
Kramer, a former state senator, said Rehrmann had not asked him to run, although he said he, too, has heard his name "bandied about" as a possible running mate.
"I would certainly consider it," Kramer said.
He was Montgomery County executive from 1986 to 1990, at a time when Glendening was executive of neighboring Prince George's County. Kramer has complained that Glendening on occasion did not keep his word on matters involving the two counties.
Neither of the other two primary challengers -- Raymond F. Schoenke Jr., a Montgomery businessman, and Dr. Terry McGuire, a Prince George's physician, has picked a running mate.
Pub Date: 5/27/98