More than 100 supporters of expelled state Sen. Larry Young gathered for a fund-raiser at a downtown Baltimore restaurant last night, but he decided to delay any announcement on running for re-election for at least several weeks.
Young, a West Baltimore Democrat, said that he sold more than 200 tickets to the $50-a-head event and hoped to raise more than $15,000. But the crowd seemed to peak at about 100 people -- small compared to Young fund-raisers in the past.
Several lobbyists decided to keep their distance rather than appear to publicly endorse Young, who was expelled in January for using his public office to benefit corporations he created.
Last week, Young's associates said that he would announce his campaign for re-election at last night's event at the Baltimore Brewing Company. But federal regulations require Young to give up his talk show on WOLB-AM radio when he becomes a declared candidate.
Last night, he chose to be coy.
"I can't deny that after 23 1/2 years I want to say, 'One more for the Gipper.' But I haven't made my decision," Young said. "I constantly am encouraged from every sector of my district."
The deadline for filing a candidacy with the state is July 6.
Young declined to comment on state and federal grand jury investigations of his alleged abuse of public office. But he predicted that he could win his Senate race handily, no matter who the challenger. No other candidate has publicly expressed interest in the job.
"If I was to run, it wouldn't matter," he said. "We would beat them."
Even with last night's modest turnout, Young predicted that the ticket for the 44th District -- the beneficiary of last night's event -- would have campaign funds of $100,000.
Del. Clarence M. Mitchell IV and Del. Ruth M. Kirk, also members of the ticket, attended last night's event as did state Sen. John D. Jefferies, who was appointed to finish out Young's term. Jefferies has said he will not run for re-election.
Young said he was weighing several job offers and had signed a book deal. He declined to elaborate on either.
Had Young not been expelled from the Senate, the turnout for the fund-raiser would have been "enormous," said one lobbyist who has given Young money in the past.
But the prospect of being identified publicly as a Young campaign contributor has given pause to many Annapolis lobbyists who would have not thought twice about writing him a check before his expulsion.
"We would never do it now," said one lobbyist who dealt with Young often on legislation and asked not to be identified. "We don't want to be on the Sun's list as people who contributed to him."
Pub Date: 6/12/98