WASHINGTON – Republican Senate nominee Paul Rappaport won Tuesday’s primary election by spending less and raising less than any of the top four finishers.
His closest competitor, Montgomery County businessman Rob Sobhani, raised and spent almost eight times as much as Rappaport, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission.
“Some people had the cash, but I have the volunteers,” said Rappaport. “We’re very happy with our progress.”
Rappaport, who ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 1994 and attorney general in 1998, vowed to continue a low-cost, grass-roots campaign in the general election against Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D-Baltimore, who has nearly $1 million in the bank.
Rappaport had raised $17,060 in individual contributions and spent $12,523.46 on his campaign between Jan. 1, 1999, and Feb. 16, 2000, according to the FEC. That translated into about 18 cents for each of the 68,848 votes he received, or about 23 percent of the primary returns.
Sobhani, who grabbed 17 percent of the tally, spent $1.86 for each of his 52,123 votes. The FEC said he raised $136,297 between Jan. 1, 1999, and Feb. 16, 2000, and spent $97,188 in the period.
A campaign spokesman said that Sobhani’s challenge was getting his name to the voters.
“Paul started with more name recognition and it really became a question of having that name ID,” said Kevin Igoe, the spokesman. “But Rob is very upbeat about the election, he feels people responded to his message.”
Other big spenders included 1998 GOP Senate nominee Ross Pierpont, who spent $57,309 and raised $106,202 in this primary. Pierpont, a Baltimore County physician who has run for office 15 times, had loaned his campaign over $100,000 but ended the reporting period with $45,350 in the bank, the most of the eight Republicans.
Montgomery County lawyer Robin Ficker reported raising $133,803 since 1998 and spent $129,991 — almost $2.82 a vote. The former state delegate, whose campaign was largely financed with $131,195 in loans, spent the most out of any Republican in the race.
Kenneth Timmerman, a Montgomery County journalist, reported raising $15,965 and spending $11,927, while Republican candidates Howard Greyber, John Stafford and Kenneth Wayman did not report raising or spending $5,000 — the amount at which a candidate must file with the FEC.
Carol Arscott of Gonzales/Arscott Polling and Research, an independent polling firm, said Rappaport’s name recognition from his earlier statewide campaigns helped him, in contrast to his better-funded contenders. Although Pierpont also has high name recognition, Arscott said his many runs at office make him a “perennial candidate.”
“Paul was probably seen as the more serious contender, even against Pierpont,” she said. “His name ID is high.”
On the Democratic side, Sarbanes raised $1.1 million and spent $320,292 from Jan. 1, 1999, to Feb. 16, 2000. He ended the period with just under $1 million in the bank.
Sarbanes’ two Democratic primary opponents, George English and Sidney Altman, did not meet the necessary $5,000 threshold for filing.
Rappaport said he is not fazed by the $970,870 that Sarbanes has to use in the general election.
“His campaign is going to be money oriented,” Rapport said. “I have the energy and the people behind me.”
Rappaport estimates that he gets three or four calls a day from Democrats wishing to pledge their support to his campaign and said he will run “a grass- roots campaign that Maryland has never seen” in his quest to oust Sarbanes.
“A Senate seat is a terrible thing to waste,” Rappaport said, repeating a frequent slogan of his campaign. “I’m going to make [Sarbanes] tell Maryland why he has done nothing [in the Senate].”
Rappaport said he has already been endorsed by some of his former foes, including Sobhani, Greyber, Timmerman and Wayman.
“This is probably the best chance for Maryland to have a two-party system in 30 years,” Rappaport said. “People will get behind me.”