Democrat Anthony G. Brown is raising money for his campaign for governor at a torrid pace, raking in more than $1.2 million in the six weeks after the General Assembly session ended in April, according to his campaign.
The lieutenant governor's campaign said Tuesday that it has $4.15 million in cash on hand, money that can pay for a sustained TV ad campaign in the four weeks before the June 24 primary.
Douglas F. Gansler's campaign stated late Tuesday night that the attorney general raised a little more than $311,000 since April 8. The campaign said it has $3.1 million in cash on hand.
A third candidate in the race, Del. Heather R. Mizeur of Montgomery County, had $961,000 in the bank May 20 with the help of her decision to accept public financing, said spokesman Steven Hershkowitz. He said the campaign expects to cross the $1 million mark when the next public financing check comes in. Hershkowitz said Mizeur has raised $448,399 in the six weeks after the session.
On the Republican side, former Ehrlich administration official Larry Hogan took a commanding lead in the money race, out-raising his closest rival by more than 3 to 1 since entering the race in January.
Hogan reported that he raised roughly $538,000 since early January and has almost $390,000 in cash on hand. He said last week that his campaign had met the state threshold to receive public financing — the first Republican to do so.
Harford County Executive David R. Craig, who has struggled to raise money since becoming the first Republican to announce for governor last year, once again posted anemic returns. He raised about $147,000 since the last report — less money than he spent during the period — and closed with about $144,000 in the bank.
While Craig had hoped to benefit from public financing, Craig fell short of the minimum fund-raising to qualify for state matching funds, campaign manager Paul Ellington said.
"We're close, but we're not there yet, and we're continuing to pursue it," he said.
"Certainly we have the money to go on television and radio," Ellington said. He insisted the campaign remains viable.
Outside observers were skeptical.
"What it tells me is that the smart money is moving toward Hogan," said Donald Norris, chair of the public policy department at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. "At $140,000 you can barely keep your office open."
All the campaigns were required to file reports with the State Board of Elections by midnight.
Hogan's strong report did not come as a surprise. He had filed an interim report in April showing that he raised $382,000 since January and had $168,000 on hand. He has raised about $160,000 since then to Craig's $90,000.
Hogan's other opponents also struggled to raise enough money to wage a statewide campaign. Del. Ron George of Anne Arundel County, who said he got permission from the elections board to file late because of software problems, told The Baltimore Sun he had raised $68,000 since the legislative session ended April 9 and had $40,000 in cash on hand. George said he decided not to raise money during the session, though, as a candidate for public financing, he was eligible to seek small donations.
Charles Lollar, a business executive from Charles County, continued to lag far behind his rivals. He reported having $18,000 on hand after raising $55,000 since January — numbers more typical of a delegate's race than a statewide contest.
Brown came out of the session with the status of front-runner as polls — including The Sun's survey in February — showed him with a 2-1 lead over Gansler. Forty percent of primary voters were undecided.
The lieutenant governor's report showed that he has continued to build on the funds he amassed last year, when he surged into a narrow lead over Gansler in cash on hand by raising three times as much during 2013. With the latest money, Brown has now raised more than $7 million during the four-year election cycle.
Until the January report, Gansler had the most money, largely on the strength of funds carried over from his unopposed 2010 re-election bid for attorney general.
Within the limits of the public financing system, Mizeur has shown considerable ability to pull in small donations from individual voters. As of May 20, she had received almost $600,000 in public funds, meaning she had raised an equal amount in gifts of $250 or less.
In the race for the Democratic nomination for attorney general, Sen. Brian E. Frosh of Montgomery County continued to dominate financially with $864,000 in the bank — almost twice as much as his nearest opponent. Del. Jon S. Cardin of Baltimore County had $486,000, while Del. Aisha N. Braveboy of Prince George's County reported almost $70,000.
Voters will get another look at how candidates are raising and spending money June 13, when the final report before the primary is due.
The campaigns still have a long way to go to break the record for spending in a Maryland governor's race, set in 2006 when Democrat Martin O'Malley successfully challenged Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. The record for spending in a state political campaign was shattered in 2012 in a contest not between candidates, but rival casino companies in a $90 million referendum over expanding gambling in Maryland.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun