In the first major fund-raiser of her campaign for governor in 2002, Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend attracted about 130 people paying $1,000 each for dinner at a Little Italy restaurant last night.
The event was billed as a joint salute to Townsend by business and labor and drew leaders of several private- and public-sector unions, as well as prominent Baltimore business people.
"It's wonderful to have all these friends come together," Townsend said, taking a break from shaking hands and posing for pictures. "It makes me happy."
After expenses, Townsend will raise about $100,000 from the event, aides said.
Although the election is three years away, Townsend is beginning to crank up her fund-raising efforts. She had a $10-a-head event at the Baltimore Zoo in July and is planning a fund-raiser Sept. 18 on Cape Cod at the Kennedy family home in Hyannis Port, Mass.
Last night, supporters portrayed Townsend as a candidate able to appeal to both business and labor.
"She is really pro-business," said Stephen L. Snyder, a prominent plaintiff's trial lawyer in Baltimore who was a co-chairman of last night's event.
"She's a friend of the working-class people," said Kevin B. O'Connor, president of the state firefighters union. "She will be a fantastic leader in the future."
Also attending were union leaders representing auto workers, Baltimore police, state employees, steel workers and teachers.
Edward Dopkin, chief executive of Classic Catering, said he decided to give Townsend money after looking at the possible campaign field. He said he has grown more impressed with her during her time in office.
"People didn't know her four or five years ago," Dopkin said. "But they have really learned a lot about her, and the more they get to know her, the more they like her."
Among elected officials who attended was U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, who praised Townsend's record and called her "a real fighter."
Mikulski made clear in an interview later that she is still neutral in the Democratic gubernatorial race. "That was not an endorsement," she said. "Those were just friendly words for another sister in politics."
Several other ranking Democrats are considering a bid for governor in three years, including Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, Baltimore County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger and Prince George's County Executive Wayne K. Curry.
Pub Date: 9/10/99