Republican Senate candidate Paul Rappaport acknowledges he is financially “outgunned” in his race to unseat incumbent Maryland Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D- Baltimore, in what he calls “a David and Goliath battle.” But he is not deterred.
“You know who won that fight,” Rappaport said of David and Goliath. “We’re going to win this election, not buy it.”
Rappaport said he is not troubled that his campaign ended the most recent campaign finance reporting quarter with only $8,155 in the bank. Sarbanes, by contrast, had $1.28 million on hand, more than 157 times Rappaport’s bankroll.
Sarbanes raised $1.5 million and spent 462,026 from Jan. 1, 1999, to June 30, 2000, according to filings with the Federal Elections Commission. Rappaport reported raising $54,537 and spending $46,380 during the same period.
Rappaport said out-of-state contributions accounted for Sarbane’s brimming campaign war chest, claiming that 79 percent of the incumbent’s funds came from out of state. The Center for Responsive Politics puts Sarbanes’ out-of-state contributions at 69.9 percent of his total.
But center documents also note that Sarbanes, the ranking Democrat on the banking committee, raised $57,100 from Philadelphia-area businesses and other supporters alone – more than Rappaport has raised altogether.
“When that much of his … money comes from out of state, he doesn’t represent the people of Maryland,” Rappaport said. Out-of-state money made up only 6.6 percent of Rappaport’s total, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Sarbanes could not be reached for comment.
Rappaport said that as former police chief of Howard County who has run in two failed statewide campaigns, he doesn’t need money. “I know people all across the state,” he said.
“What does it take to win an election?” he asked. “We’re hopeful that it isn’t just money.”
But political analysts say, money or not, Rappaport has his work cut out for him. The Maryland Senate campaign is “a sleeper,” said University of Maryland political scientist James Gimpel.
“Sarbanes would have to die or be involved in a huge scandal for Rappaport to win at this point,” Gimpel said. “Sarbanes keeps his nose pretty clean, so a scandal is not likely.”
Sarbanes has a history of “sleeper” campaigns, and money has not always been the deciding factor. In 1994, he beat Republican nominee William Brock despite Brock’s money and name recognition: He was a former U.S. labor secretary and former senator, who had defeated Al Gore Sr. in Tennessee’s 1970 U.S. Senate race.
Brock loaned his own campaign $1.5 million in 1993 and 1994 and ended up outspending Sarbanes by $500,000. But Sarbanes still won that race by a comfortable 59 percent to 41 percent margin.
Brock was the exception. “Unless they’re a self-funded candidate it’s very unusual for the contender to spend more,” than an incumbent, said Sheila Krumholz of the Center for Responsive Politics.
Sarbanes outspent his 1988 opponent, Republican Alan Keyes, by more than $800,000. Besides being outspent, however, Keyes was also handicapped by the fact that he is what Gimpel called an “extraordinarily conservative” Republican in a Democratic state.
Rappaport — who ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 1994 on Ellen Sauerbrey’s ticket and who mounted a failed 1998 bid for attorney general — vowed to defeat Sarbanes on the incumbent’s liberal voting record.
“He’s bad for Maryland families. He’s too liberal,” he said.