WASHINGTON -- With four months until the November election, Republican senatorial candidate Paul H. Rappaport is trailing far behind incumbent Democrat Paul S. Sarbanes in raising campaign funds.
Rappaport has $8,150 in his campaign bank account; Sarbanes has $1.3 million, according to the latest campaign finance reports and the senator's office.
"Ouch," said Jennifer Duffy, who tracks Senate races for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. "Something truly serious has to happen for this to not be a forgone conclusion."
Rappaport said yesterday that he still thinks he can mount an aggressive campaign and beat Sarbanes, despite his opponent's sizable campaign war chest.
"We're building an organization," Rappaport said, echoing sentiments he expressed after his primary win in March. "We have a plan, and we're on target."
Sarbanes' campaign manager, Michael H. Davis, declined to discuss Rappaport's fund-raising situation and insisted that the senator was taking the race seriously.
"We're going to help Al Gore carry the state," Davis said, referring to the vice president and presumed Democratic presidential nominee.
Sarbanes has aggressively raised money since January 1999, Davis said. At that point, records show, the senator had about $180,000 on hand.
He raised $263,703 and spent $94,114 between April 1 and June 30, the period covered by the latest report, according to a summary of fund-raising activity provided by the senator's office. The summary did not include a breakdown of expenditures.
By comparison, Rappaport raised $24,257 and spent $19,312 in the same period. He also lent himself $4,000, his report shows.
Sarbanes has served in Congress since 1967 and is the senior Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee. The liberal senator attracts a diverse group of donors, including financiers, union officials, lawyers and homemakers, and many of his fellow Greek-Americans.
Rappaport, a former Howard County police chief, is a lawyer who has given up much of his practice to run for the Senate. He ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor on Ellen Sauerbrey's ticket in 1994, and lost again in the attorney general's race four years later.
In the state's eight contests for House seats, incumbents appear to have opened large fund-raising leads over their opponents, according to the campaign finance reports filed by yesterday with the Federal Election Commission.
In Montgomery County's 8th District race, Republican Rep. Constance A. Morella seems to have the most robust fund-raising rival, but she still holds a strong lead, with $675,282 in the bank. Her opponent, Democrat Terry Lier- man, has $96,766 on hand.
Lierman raised $105,641 during the reporting period. Morella raised $239,000.
Because campaigns need only have their finance statements postmarked by July 15, the reporting deadline, only some of the reports were available yesterday.