WASHINGTON – With the Maryland primaries less than a month away, Democratic Rep. Steny H. Hoyer’s campaign continues to benefit from special-interest contributions and financially dwarfs the closest Republican challenger.
“It is clear that Hoyer continues to have the support of not only individuals, but organizations and businesses, despite being a member of the minority party in Congress,” said Hoyer spokesman Jesse Jacobs.
According to year-end reports filed last week with the Federal Election Commission, Hoyer received $233,475 from special-interest groups last year – nearly twice the $119,172 he received from individuals.
Hoyer, 56, of Mitchellville, ended the year with nearly $309,000 in the bank.
Republican state Del. John S. Morgan, 32, of Laurel, had $6,994 in the bank at the end of last year, according to his FEC report.
Morgan received just $200 from special-interest groups, or political action committees, last year. Individuals gave more than $19,000.
“I’m a big believer in raising money from individuals in the district,” Morgan said. He said Hoyer was too “influenced by the lobbyist establishment, rather than the folks back home.”
Morgan added: “He takes in big money, PAC money. That raises questions.”
Chris West, executive director of the Maryland Republican Party, said the amount of Hoyer’s money coming from out of state could become an issue.
“The source of the money is somewhat of an embarrassment to him,” West said.
In the last half of 1995, 71 percent of the people who gave at least $200 to Hoyer were from outside Maryland. Of Morgan’s contributors, 39 percent were from out of state, FEC records show.
Jacobs said there were obvious reasons for the money coming from interest groups and out-of-staters.
“Steny is a member of the Democratic leadership,” Jacobs said. “Organizations across the country recognize that.”
Hoyer’s lone Democratic challenger in the March 5 primary is Thomas Defibaugh Sr., 43, an animal control officer from Severn, in Anne Arundel County. His concerns revolve around senior citizens and education.
He said Hoyer’s money doesn’t worry him.
“Especially in my field, I can’t be intimidated by anybody, Defibaugh said. “I deal with the public.”
The Republican primary features three candidates besides Morgan. None has raised or spent the $5,000 needed to file an FEC report.
James J. Inabinett Jr., 37, a College Park attorney, is a former Hoyer supporter and was a Democrat until a year ago. He is an anti-abortion candidate favoring a tax cut, term limits and family values.
J. Douglas Parran, 43, is a Calvert County video technician who has run his own political cable television show. He ran unsuccessfully for Hoyer’s 5th District seat in 1992.
Eugene Robert Zarwell, 54, a consultant in international marketing, ran for the Senate in 1988 and 1994. He said he will officially announce his candidacy Feb. 14.
“We think we can do it in a last-minute media blitz,” Zarwell said in a telephone interview. He said he has been meeting with various presidential candidates, including Malcolm “Steve” Forbes Jr.
“We’re going to need $25,000 to $50,000 to do what we want to do,” Zarwell said. He said his campaign has not raised anything yet.
Morgan was optimistic about the primaries. “I’m hoping to come out of the election with money in the bank and be ready to take on Hoyer,” he said.
“People are holding back until after the primary,” said Barbara Anderson, treasurer for Morgan’s campaign. She said a fund raiser is planned for Feb. 28 with Republican Reps. Robert Ehrlich Jr., of Lutherville; Roscoe G. Bartlett, of Frederick; and Dana Rohrabacher, of California.
Since last August, Morgan has been making his name known by waking before dawn and standing for hours waving to morning traffic.
“We’re doing door-to-door work,” Morgan said. “To get the name out there, and show some enthusiasm.”
Anderson said Morgan’s campaign operates with lower costs because of the lack of paid staff. “This is going to be a very volunteer-intensive campaign,” she said.