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Ehrlich nets $72,000

May 29, 2002|by LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

Republican Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. raked in $72,000 Tuesday night toward his bid for governor at a fund-raiser near Hagerstown.

Businessman Howard "Blackie" Bowen, who hosted the event at his stately farmhouse built in 1849, said he thinks the total set a county record for the most money raised for a single candidate in a single night.

"We'll be back next week," Ehrlich said, generating laughs.

Supporters, who paid $250 per person, dined on a buffet of salmon, beef tenderloin tips, grilled vegetables and pasta. There was an open bar and servers passed around shrimp appetizers.

Guests included the county's Republican elected officials and well-known businesspeople such as Richard Phoebus, Paul Mellott and Michael Callas.

A guitar player and saxophonist entertained, playing songs that included Jimmy Buffett's "Margaritaville."

Several lobbyists were there.

"Bruce Bereano, your humble servant, at your service," the lobbyist said as he shook hands with Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington.

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Ehrlich arrived quietly and began working his way through the crowd, explaining his position on various issues.

When asked about legalizing slot machines, he said he favors putting slots at racetracks only to prop up the struggling horse racing industry.

Ehrlich addressed the entire crowd by the pool, making them laugh with stories about how his wife, Kendel, reluctantly accepted a life of politics.

"You're going to have a piece of work as a first lady," he said.

As thunder from an approaching storm rumbled in the background, Ehrlich asked the group to help him wrest control of the governor's mansion away from Democrats who have held it for 34 years.

"It's only the end of the first quarter and we have three more to go," he said. "A cocky Maryland Republican is an oxymoron."

Ehrlich, who has raised about $2.5 million, said he needs to raise an average of $30,000 a day to be able to compete against Democrat Kathleen Kennedy Townsend's powerful fund-raising machine.

Bowen said he hosted a similar event four years ago that raised $38,000 for Republican Ellen Sauerbrey.

Democrat Kathleen Kennedy Townsend's campaign declined to say what her last Hagerstown area fund-raiser netted. State campaign finance records show she raised about $60,000 from Hagerstown residents from 1999 through November 2001.

Townsend is visiting Washington County today. As lieutenant governor, she's touring Mack Trucks Inc. to recognize Volvo's May 2 announcement that it will manufacture its engines at the Hagerstown plant.

In the evening, she'll address Washington County's annual Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner at the Venice Inn.

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