With a big new investment in Andy Harris' congressional bid, Baltimore area concrete magnate Danny Schuster appears to be cementing (ahem) his status as Maryland's top donor of the 2010 midterm campaign.
The vehicle for Schuster's largesse, DGS Construction Inc., which he owns, just put $47,200 into a radio ad campaign on behalf of Harris, the veteran Republican state lawmaker who is challenging incumbent Democratic Rep. Frank Kratovil in Maryland's First District (parts of Baltimore, Harford, Anne Arundel counties, plus the Eastern Shore).
In addition to Harris, the big beneficiaries of Schuster's latest spending are WBAL radio, which charged DGS $25,600 for airtime, and--interestingly--Radio One, which sold $21,600 worth on its stations, which include WOLB, that largely aim their programming at African American audiences.
Black voters make up about ten percent of the district's population but aren't expected to turn out at nearly that rate in the election. A recent Sun poll found a tiny number of black voters who were either undecided or were Kratovil supporters who said they could change their mind; a total of 12 voters who said they were African-American were included in the survey (of 520 likely voters) and none said they were supporting Harris.
Earlier this month, Schuster's company put $300,000 into a Super PAC that has gone on the attack against Kratovil.
To put Schuster's giving into context, bigtime Democratic money man Peter G. Angelos, the Baltimore lawyer who owns the Orioles and historically ranks among the state's biggest political donors, has contributed a total of $128,700 to a variety of candidates and Democratic Party committees in the 2010 campaign.
Schuster, you may recall, had $600 of the money he donated directly to Harris refunded, because it exceeded the $2,400 limit an individual can give a candidate for each election. The rest of his 2010 giving on Harris' behalf is for so-called independent expenditure ads, which typically copy what a candidate is saying but are not supposed to be coordinated with the campaign.
It's all legal as a result of a Supreme Court ruling last winter, and related federal court action, that opened the spigots for unlimited spending by corporations, labor unions and wealthy individuals.