Schuh leads fundraising for county executive in '14

Republican state Del. Steven R. Schuh has taken a strong lead among prospective candidates for Anne Arundel county executive in 2014 in early fundraising, according to recently released campaign finance documents.

Schuh, who announced Thursday that he has formed an exploratory committee, has about $283,000 in his campaign account, according to a report filed Wednesday, the deadline for filing campaign finance reports for 2011.

"I'm certainly pleased with the money we've been able to raise," Schuh said. "I'm really encouraged by our progress."

Schuh, who raised $250,000 in the past year and made a $25,000 loan to his campaign account, leads among the Republicans and Democrats who might run for the seat held by County Executive John R. Leopold, a term-limited Republican.

County Councilman John J. Grasso is a distant second among the Republicans, with about $30,000 on hand. With the election three years away, Grasso, from Glen Burnie, has not declared his candidacy but acknowledges that he is considering it.

"The idea that money is going to win the race isn't going to fly," said Grasso, who has established himself as an outspoken member of the council in the past year. "It's about someone who's willing to do the work. … The truth of the matter is, the people want a hardworking person. I think I have enough name recognition banging door to door; I'll be fine."

Grasso, while calling Schuh a "nice guy," appeared to take a dig at the state legislator.

"I'm in the paper all the time because I'm doing something," said Grasso. "If people don't want a county executive like that, then pick the other guy with all the money and see what you get. When you have large amounts of money around you, you owe political favors."

Asked to respond, Schuh said, "I think very highly of John and think he would be a wonderful county executive."

State Sen. Bryan W. Simonaire, a Pasadena Republican who announced last fall he was considering a run, has about $24,300 in his campaign account.

"I have not put 100 percent behind fundraising," Simonaire said. "I've formed an exploratory committee. Once I make that final commitment, then the fundraising will escalate. We're three years out. I've got three years to build up the relationships and the donors, so it doesn't concern me at this point."

Other Republicans said to be considering runs are state Sen. Edward R. Reilly, who has about $7,900 on hand, though he raised about $24,000 in the past year; Del. Cathleen M. Vitale, who has about $16,000; and former Councilman Ronald C. Dillon Jr., who has about $7,100.

Among Democrats, Joanna L. Conti, who unsuccessfully challenged Leopold in 2010, has about $39,000 in her campaign account. She raised the bulk of that in the past year, garnering about $32,900 in contributions.

Leopold, who has said that he is considering seeking statewide office, has about $426,000 on hand but raised less than $5,000 during the past year.

Leopold, who served for two decades in the House of Delegates before being elected as county executive in 2006, has said that he is considering a run for governor, comptroller or the state Senate.

"I've met with potential donors," Leopold said. "Should I choose to run a statewide race, the resources would be there."