Incumbents lead the pack in campaign funds

In the 2014 political campaign, Laurel's representatives running for re-election hold an advantage that is often held by incumbents.

District 1 County Council member Mary Lehman is eligible to run for another term, and all the members of the District 21 State House delegation, which represents the bulk of Laurel, have filed for re-election.

In District 13, which represents North Laurel, two incumbent delegates are up for re-election, while current Del. Guy Guzzone is making a bid to replace retiring state Sen. Jim Robey. Guzzone's departure opens up one House seat in the District, and four newcomers have filed for the spot.

Only one candidate so far has filed in District 23, although its incumbents all raised money last year, which indicates they are likely to run again. The candidate filing deadline is Feb. 25.

A look at the campaign finance reports of this year's candidates shows Laurel's incumbents in a much stronger position monetarily than this year's newcomers.

This makes sense, according to Paul Herrnson, executive director of the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research and professor of political science at the University of Connecticut. Herrnson, who used to be a professor at the University of Maryland, has followed Maryland politics closely for years.

"The people who can raise the least are challengers, and they're the ones who need it the most," he said. Newcomers often have less name recognition, and "they don't have the experience," Herrnson added. "They're not known for the position."

In contrast, "someone who has served in a previous political position has advantages," he said. "They have experience, they probably have developed some useful skills, they've fundraised before."

Laurel's incumbents matched Herrnson's predictions, outpacing newcomers in fundraising and cash on hand.

In North Laurel's District 13, Guzzone, a Democrat, led the pack, raising $272,738.21 in 2013. He has $409,675.67 to spend on his campaign this year.

Incumbent District 13 Democrats Shane Pendergrass and Frank Turner led delegate candidates in terms of money.

Pendergrass raised $25,878.80 in 2013 and has $111,718.04 to spend as 2014 begins. Turner raised $22,237.81 and has $56,245.78 in cash on hand.

The newcomer with the most money is Democrat Janet Siddiqui, a Howard County school board member and physician who raised $14,190 last year and has $45,233.50 on her campaign. Pendergrass, Turner and Guzzone announced last year that Siddiqui would run alongside them as part of "Team 13."

In a distant fourth is Republican Danny Eaton, who raised $5,142.90 and has $2,596.87 cash on hand. Jimmy Williams, a University of Maryland junior and the second Republican to file in the district, has $325 to spend.

Democrat Fred Eiland, who filed in July, hadn't filed a campaign finance report as of Feb. 4.

In District 21, which includes parts of Laurel in Prince George's and Anne Arundel counties, current state Sen. Jim Rosapepe raised $60,625 in 2013 and has $391,605.67 cash on hand.

Del. Joseline Peña-Melnyk raised $36,700 and has $63,735.89 to spend, while her colleagues had less: Del. Ben Barnes raised $18,875 and has $36,719.53 to spend going into 2014, while Del. Barbara Frush raised $9,000 and has $17,253.63 to spend.

So far, there are no challengers for Democrats Rosapepe and the District 21 delegates, who have all filed for re-election.

Neither of District 23A's incumbent delegates has filed yet to run for another term, although both raised money last year. The district includes parts of South Laurel in Prince George's County.

Democrat Del. Geraldine Valentino-Smith collected $32,970 in 2013 and has $53,230.28 cash on hand, while Del. James W. Hubbard, also a Democrat, raised $28,450 and has $34,838.99 to spend.

District 23 state Sen. Douglas J.J. Peters hasn't filed for re-election yet either, although the Democrat raised $152,730 in 2013 and has $206,188.70 to spend on his campaign.

A challenger, Democrat David Grogan, filed for the District 23 Senate seat on Jan. 3 and hasn't submitted a campaign finance report, though he has a campaign account.

And on the County Council level, Lehman raised just $275 in 2013, although she has $10,997.85 in cash on hand. The District 1 Democrat has not yet filed for re-election, though she announced Jan. 31 that she would be running again for her seat. No one has filed to challenge her.

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