Political Notebook: Ulman, Democrats flush with cash

Howard County Democrats, most of whom cruised to easy re-election, will return to office flush with leftover campaign cash, according to the latest state reports.

County Executive Ken Ulman, a Democrat, reported $486,834 in cash on hand after the election. His leftovers amount to more than any candidate ever spent to run for Howard's top job until his first campaign in 2006.

Ulman, who won with 62 percent of the vote, raised a record total of $1.4 million over the four-year cycle since January 2007, according to state reports. In time covered under this latest post-election report, Ulman collected only $40,385, with $8,000 of that coming from Camilla Carroll and her brother, Phillip, the owners of Doughoregan Manor. Ulman took back an $8,000 loan unspent by his ally, County Councilwoman Mary Kay Sigaty, in her primary battle with Alan Klein and sent $10,000 to the Team 13 Slate, plus $2,000 to unsuccessful County Council candidate Dr. Zaneb Beams.

"People appreciate good government and quality of life," Ulman said in explanation. "I've been humbled and honored to have this much support." Despite the big cash cushion, Ulman, who will complete his second and final term in 2014, plans to continue raising money.

Democrats were very successful with voters. All four County Council incumbents and all eight General Assembly Democrats also won, while Republicans held their one council and three legislative positions. At the county courthouse, Democrats held the state's attorney's and sheriff's offices, while Democrat Byron MacFarlane also won for register of wills, displacing 24-year incumbent Republican Kay Hartleb. Their success in raising money will also make Democrats that much harder to defeat in 2014.

Trent Kittleman, Ulman's Republican opponent, raised $66,335 in her campaign, including $3,000 in the campaign's final month from the Howard County Republican Central Committee. Despite that, she spent only $295 in the final month and finished with $9,933 in the bank to pay outstanding bills.

Kittleman said the Democrats' cash confirms the obvious. "Republicans had difficulties in this state. The business people — the inside crowd gave up on Maryland," she said, partly because they are realists. "Why bother to give money to a lost cause?"

Moneyed political donors want access to power, and the Democrats' success in raising money carries a message. "What that says is that lots of people feel this is a Democratic state and they'd better jump on the bandwagon," Kittleman said.

Other Democrats are also well-fixed. Del. Guy Guzzone, considered by some a possible county executive candidate in four years, has $101,000 left unspent, and Del. Shane Pendergrass, who spent the summer in California, where her husband's job took him temporarily, still easily won re-election and has $54,000 left over.

"I'm planning to run again in four years, and it's a great start," Pendergrass said, adding that she and fellow District 13 Democrats State Sen. James N. Robey, Guzzone and Del. Frank S. Turner ran a thorough campaign and spent what they needed to win. "We did everything we needed to do," Pendergrass said.

The least successful of the three still got nearly 8,000 more votes than Ed Priola, their closest Republican rival, while Robey beat Kyle Lorton by over 10,000 votes. Robey reported $82,574 left over to Lorton's $4,738.

Even in District 12A, which mostly covers the portion of southwestern Baltimore County where Republican gubernatorial candidate Robert L., Ehrlich Jr., grew up, Democrat Del. Steven J. DeBoy Sr., won re-election and had $17,084 left over. Senate Majority Leader Edward J. Kasemeyer, the Columbia Democrat who represents that entire district, including west Columbia, won easily and had $48,888 left in the bank.

"I was worried," Kasemeyer said, "but you can only do so much," he said. The race was competitive in Baltimore County, he said, but there's only so many mailings and phone calls that can be made. District 21B Democratic Del. Elizabeth Bobo had $26,600 left after an easy victory.

Republican State Sen. Allan H. Kittleman, by contrast, easily won re-election but had $8,614 left on hand in the latest report, though he gave $29,312 to other candidates and slates, including $15,000 to the coalition of candidates included in a "Leadership Team Slate" that helped Republican County Council candidate Robert L. Flanagan, who lost to County Council Chairwoman Courtney Watson.

Flanagan's campaign got $4,400 directly from the slate, according to his report, and the slate itself spent more. Including that slate money, Flanagan reported raising $6,230 overall for his own campaign during the final month, and had $2,867 left. Watson spent $70,246 in the last month to Flanagan's $19,334 and Watson still had $21,000 left over. Dennis R. Schrader, another unsuccessful Republican council candidate, raised $1,760 during the last month and had $5,585 left on hand.

County Councilman Greg Fox, an incumbent Republican who also won easy re-election, said he attached little significance to the Democrats largesse, "other than the obvious that Ken's shooting for higher office," he said. Fox reported raising $975 in the final period, gave $3,900 to the Leadership Team Slate, and had $4,549 left.

Republican Dels. Gail H. Bates and Warren E. Miller also won comfortable victories, and had their own two-member fundraising slate they jointly pumped $24,000 into, though they also gave $15,000 to the party central committee for shared GOP campaign literature.

Guzzone said the press is too focused on the gamesmanship of politics rather than the substance. "I don't like talking strategy," he said. "I believe that although it's interesting, it's the least important aspect of what we do." Nevertheless, he said, having money in the bank "is a good thing for any candidate." Guzzone said he's "incredibly grateful" to his contributors.

Pay raises far off

Howard's newly elected public officials are to be sworn in Dec. 6 at Howard High School, but they won't have to start their new terms worrying about the symbolism of pay raises during a recession. This year there are no raises, and the county executive's official pay remains at $160,198. Council members will be paid $53,400, with an extra $1,000 for whoever serves as chairman,

Annual inflation increases will begin next December, however, based on the pay recommendations adopted in February. For each of the past two years, Howard's elected officials have vowed to give to charity or return to the county their annual pay increases.

Ulman has also hired Susan M. Smith-Bauk — a former economic development official under Gov. Parris N. Glendening who kept Ulman's campaign financial accounts over the past four years — as a deputy county administrative officer, replacing the retired Phyllis Madachy at the same salary of $121,929. Smith-Bauk will no longer be involved in campaign work, Ulman said.

larry.carson@baltsun.com

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