Gov. Larry Hogan and the Maryland Republican Party have raised more than $2 million since the November election, capitalizing on an advantage that had long been held by the state's Democrats.

Hogan and the GOP are reaping the spoils of victory as long-time Democratic donors in the traditionally blue state join enthusiastic Republicans in helping the new governor fill his campaign coffers for an expected re-election bid in 2018.

Advertisement

"People want access, don't they? They want to be on the governor's good side, and giving money is always a good way to achieve both," said Donald F. Norris, chair of the public policy department at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Final campaign finance reports for the 2014 election cycle were due Jan. 21, the same day as Hogan's inauguration. They reveal that donors wasted little time in showing their support for the winner after Hogan's upset victory over Democrat Anthony G. Brown.

The reports also show that Democratic fund-raising has been in the doldrums since the Brown's defeat.

In the roughly two months from Nov. 12 to Jan. 14, the reports show, Hogan's two campaign committees raised almost $1.4 million and haveabout $1 million still on hand.

Meanwhile the state's Republican Party, long a fund-raising weakling outside election season, displayed its muscle by bringing in almost $935,000. The state Democratic Party raised just $101,000.

That left the state GOP with almost $530,000 in the bank – a stark contrast with its position four years ago after a gubernatorial defeat. Then it reported having $3,228. Now the Republicans have twice as much money in their coffers as the Democrats.

Messages to Hogan's campaign chairman and treasurer were not returned. Joe Cluster, the state GOP's executive director, said the party will continue to go all-out to maintain its financial lead.

"We are going to take full advantage of having a Republican governor," he said. "We're going to work as hard as we can to make Maryland a two-party state, and that takes money.

Cluster's counterpart at the Maryland Democratic Party, Bob Fenity, said the Republican success was no surprise. He predicted Democratic fund-raising would bounce back once people get a good look at Hogan.

"As folks see how our new governor is governing, I think we'll see people seeing why support for our party is so important," Fenity said.

The Republicans' newfound fundraising prowess makes it highly unlikely that Hogan would have to depend on public financing in 2018 as he did in 2014. The last Republican governor to seek re-election in Maryland, Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. in 2006, raised $18 million.

"By the time of the next election, he will be very, very well-heeled," said Norris. He said Hogan's fund-raising ability should be enough to deter any challenge from the Republican right and give him a financial advantage over any of the Democrats viewed as potential challengers.

It is not unusual for a new governor to raise hefty sums in the immediate aftermath of victory. After Democrat Martin O'Malley unseated Ehrlich, he took in $1.3 million in the two months covered by his final post-election report. The difference is that while O'Malley had hefty debts to repay, Hogan's largest debt is the $500,000 he lent his campaign during the primary.

Some of the Republican success is being driven by donations by longtime Democratic donors.

Advertisement

For instance, Nathan Landow, a developer and former Maryland Democratic Party chairman, has long been a source of steady funds for his party's office-seekers. Before the November election, he and his various businesses contributed at least $25,000 to Brown's campaign.

This month, however, Landow has poured at least $25,000 into Hogan's treasury.

Landow said he still likes Brown and thinks he was the best candidate the Democrats could put forward. But he said he was pleased to be asked to contribute to Hogan and will give more if asked.

"With Governor Hogan, we're going to see some great things," Landow said. "It'll be a welcome change."

Landow said he hasn't ever done business with the state and has no need for access. The developer said his interest is in "the direction the new leadership is going to take us."

Another big donor whose money followed the winner is William Rickman Jr., a developer and the owner of the casino at Ocean Downs. He and his companies gave Brown more than $10,000 for the 2014 election, but in December donated $16,000 to Hogan.

Rickman could not be reached for comment.

Members of the Annapolis lobbying corps, many of whom followed the conventional political wisdom and bet on Brown to win, have since ponied up for Hogan. Among the heavy-hitting firms or lobbyists to contribute money to Hogan since his election: former Democratic Senate Majority Leader Rob Garagiola, Gerard E. Evans, Ivan V. Lanier, Alexander & Cleaver and Popham & Andryszak.

Meanwhile, Brown reported that he closed out the election cycle with $302 left in his main campaign account and $31 in another. He continues to owe more than $530,000 in debts — including a loan for $500,000 he took from the Laborers International Union in the final weeks of the campaign.

At the time, Brown signed a note making him personally liable for repayment.

"I plan to satisfy my obligations to the Laborers and all outstanding vendors as required under Maryland's campaign finance laws," he said in an email Monday.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement