Morella foe calls in the A team


IT DOESN'T hurt to have friends in Washington.

Democratic lobbyist Terry Lierman appears to be waging an uphill campaign against popular Republican Rep. Constance A. Morella in Montgomery County. But he has put together an impressive guest list for a fund-raiser tomorrow night, even getting a response from the White House.

President Clinton has promised to show up - as have a number of prominent Democrats from Maryland, including Gov. Parris N. Glendening, Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan.

The event will be from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington. Tickets range from $250 to $1,000.

Lierman, a former Senate aide who owns an online pharmacy, is the latest in a long line of Democrats with Washington ties who have taken on the daunting task of trying to defeat Morella. She is a proven vote-getter, a moderate Republican in her seventh term who inspires affection in the deeply Democratic district.

The Lierman camp is wasting little time capitalizing on the president's promised appearance.

"This sends an excellent message that Terry Lierman has a serious, competitive campaign," said campaign manager Derek Walker. "He has the vision and commitment to win one of the seats the Democrats need to take back Congress."

Morella's campaign played down the significance of Clinton's boost to her rival's fund-raising prowess. Morella has $675,282 in the bank, compared with Lierman's $96,766, according to the latest campaign reports.

State Sen. Patrick J. Hogan, a Montgomery Republican who is chairman of the congresswoman's campaign, noted that Morella prevailed in 1986 even though Montgomery County businessman Stewart Bainum Jr. spent more than $400,000 of his own money.

Hogan noted that Lierman has lobbied for years on Capitol Hill and is "very well-connected to the Democratic fund-raising machine. He's a longtime contributor to a lot of Democratic national candidates, so I assume that's the connection and that's the payback."

Clinton's show of support is surprising only because he has been on good terms with Morella. She voted against his impeachment, and Clinton has singled her out for praise on gun-control efforts in the past year.

Of course, Morella has a few friends of her own in Washington. This month, she had a fund-raiser at a Montgomery County home that featured a Republican national star - Arizona Sen. John McCain.

Divorce means never having to vote for your ex

Now this is an ugly divorce.

U.S. Rep. Albert R. Wynn is not only going through his third marital breakup, but his soon-to-be-ex has signed on to help his political opponent.

John Kimble, the Republican nominee against the 4th District Democrat in November, has recruited Jessie Wynn, the congressman's estranged wife, to be his campaign chairwoman. Albert Wynn filed for divorce from his wife a little more than a year ago.

Jessie Wynn told the Prince George's Journal that she accepted Kimble's invitation to be chairwoman "because he's an honest guy and he cares about people."

When he ran against Wynn in 1996, Kimble tried to generate publicity by sending photos of himself to Playgirl magazine. Mercifully, they did not appear.

Dear Editor (name here): The GOP is mean, etc., etc.

The Republican Party is being mighty negative. And Maryland Democrats want to make sure that their faithful know how to respond.

A mailing last week to Democratic supporters signed by state party Chairman Wayne L. Rogers includes a sample letter to the editor.

"Dear Editor: For the last few weeks, I haven't seen or heard a single positive ad from the Republican Party. Every time I turn on the radio, open the newspaper, or watch the television, there seems to be another attack ad from the GOP," the letter begins.

Rob Johnson, executive director of the state Democratic Party, said such mailings are common and can be effective.

"We're always trying to get people to write letters to the editor," Johnson said. "People read those things. It's a powerful tool."

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