Schuh burns through almost $1 million in final weeks of Anne Arundel county executive campaign

Chase Cook
Contact Reporterccook@capgaznews.com

County Executive Steve Schuh spent almost a million dollars in about two months this fall, shattering the single-report record for county campaign spending, according to available campaign finance documents.

Schuh is outspending his Democratic opponent Steuart Pittman by almost threefold, according to recent campaign finance reports. Schuh spent about $904,000 to Pittman’s $302,000. About half of Schuh’s expenses were focused on media, including television and radio. Some was spent on print, including ads in The Capital.

The Republican incumbent also outraised Pittman with about $300,000 total contributions to Pittman’s roughly $150,000. This campaign finance report covers Aug. 22 to Oct. 21.

Schuh’s campaign sent out an email touting their fundraising success. Pittman’s campaign did not.

“This sustained fundraising momentum from contributors representing all walks of life has allowed us to deliver our message directly to every voter in Anne Arundel County,” Megan Miller, campaign spokeswoman, said in a statement. “We have invested in robust grassroots and media efforts to share the accomplishments of the past four years and present the County Executive's vision for a second term. We will finish the campaign strong.”

It was a good two months for Scott Strategies, the political consulting company connected to Schuh’s friend and political advisor Lawrence Scott. Francine Scott, Lawrence's is wife, runs the business but he frequently identifies himself as working for it.

As Schuh paid for the media and mailing blitz, Scott Strategies racked up $215,456.17. That accounts for about a fourth of all the expenses paid by Schuh’s campaign.

Pittman’s campaign tripled its expenses compared to the previous finance report. He spent $300,000 compared to about $110,000. That money was primarily spent on TV, radio and printing. His campaign was defiant despite Schuh’s spending blitz. A local poll had Pittman about 5 percentage points behind Schuh, gaining 10 points from the spring.

“Once again we see massive spending and corporate developer dollars flood into the county executive's campaign account,” said Peter Baron, Pittman’s campaign manager. “Yet even after all of Schuh's spending, Pittman has closed the gap in the polls. It's clear that the people of Anne Arundel are sick of Schuh's reckless development agenda that is crowding our roads and schools while stressing our first responders.”

Pittman’s campaign has used developer support as the focal point of attack on Schuh, even calling for changes to county law forbidding politician to accept money from developers who have business pending before the county.

Schuh’s campaign has fired back, saying Pittman has accepted money from some developers. Pittman said this was true but it was from developers interested in affordable housing. He pledged that he wouldn’t accept those donations if the rules were changed.

The majority of Schuh’s expenditures focused on TV and mailers, but the county executive also continued to make friends with other political candidates. His campaign transferred out about $60,000.

Half of that was transferred to the Anne Arundel Leadership Slate. This political action committee is chaired by Dirk Haire, the Maryland Republican Party chairman. This committee is focused on the council races. Republicans Michael Christman, Jessica Haire and Tom Gardner are all affiliated with the campaign alongside Schuh and House Minority Leader Nic Kipke, R-Pasadena. Gardener, Christman and Haire are all running for County Council within District 2, 6 and 7. Haire is married to the party executive director.

The leadership slate used the $30,000 from Schuh to run TV ads, according to campaign finance records.

Other beneficiaries from Schuh include out of county politicians like Del. Pat McDonough, R-Baltimore County. McDonough received $2,000 from Schuh. He ran against Republican Al Redmer in the Baltmore County executive primary. Redmer also received $1,000 from Schuh’s campaign.

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