Republican County Executive Allan Kittleman has nearly four times as much cash on hand as his competitor, Democrat Calvin Ball, in the race for Howard County executive, according to the latest financial disclosure statements filed this week.
Reports show Kittleman, who has been county executive since 2014, with $825,552.03 in his campaign’s account. Ball, a Columbia resident who has served on the County Council since 2006, has $246,083.91.
Kittleman raised $441,067.95 from more than 900 contributions between Jan. 12, 2017 and Jan. 10. Ball raised $204,446 from 511 contributions during the same period.
Fundraising for campaigns goes towards staffing, advertising, mailers and polling.
Kittleman is outpacing his fundraising from this time during the 2014 campaign for county executive, when he had $329,495 in cash on hand compared to opponent Democrat Courtney Watson’s $721,298.
“I am very pleased with our fundraising progress in 2017,” Kittleman said in a statement. “It shows that when you put people before politics and when you focus on issues that matter to people locally, awesome things can happen.”
Ball said he’s pleased by his fundraising, particularly since he officially started his campaign in November. Ball has raised $143,013 since he entered the race.
Ball so far has one Democratic competitor in the June primary, Columbia resident Harry Dunbar. Dunbar has raised $2,750, all from a personal loan to his campaign.
“I really haven’t started any effort towards fundraising yet, but I expect to begin that process in the next couple of weeks,” Dunbar said. “I know I can win this campaign. This is not about fundraising, this is about votes. It’s up to the voters to wise up and carefully look at all of the candidates, those with money as well as those without.”
“I think that I will be able to raise enough money to make sure I can serve the county as county executive. I think this will be our year,” Ball said. “Once we get into the spring and more towards the primary, that’s when we’re going to be doing even more.”
While the race is still in its early stages, Donald F. Norris, a professor emeritus of public policy at University of Maryland, Baltimore County, said fundraising is half the battle.
Norris said he didn’t find it surprising that Kittleman, as the incumbent,had far outraised Ball.
“A fourfold advantage is really a pretty serious advantage,” Norris said. “If the two of them keep raising money at that rate or even cut the rate to get to a point where [Ball’s] raising half as much as Kittleman’s raising, he’s still going to have a serious financial problem. Given Kittleman’s popularity and the fact that he’s very well known, my guess is that he’s going to be able to outraise Calvin Ball and that that will make a huge difference.”
Norris said Democrats in Howard will have a hard time using the common strategy against Kittleman of tying Republican politicians to President Donald Trump. Kittleman publicly opposed Trump in 2016. However, Trump’s low popularity, particularly in blue areas such as Howard County, could pose problems for all down ballot Republicans regardless of their personal opinion of the president.
“If Donald Trump is so toxic that it keeps Republicans from turning out to vote in down ballot races and if it motivates Democrats to turn out, that could be a factor in this race,” Norris said.
With a nearly wide open race for County Council, 15 candidates currently vie for seats.
In District 1, Democrat Jon Weinstein of Ellicott City, the only incumbent who can seek re-election in November, surpassed a council candidates with $85,284.91 in the bank. His opponent, Republican Ellicott City resident Raj Kathuria, has $14,360.74 on hand.
In District 2, the seat held by Ball, Republican John Liao, of Columbia, has $5,550.54 on hand. Columbia resident Democrat Opel Jones, who was one of the first to declare his candidacy for council in January 2017, has $10,067.04 in the bank.
District 3 is one of the most crowded races, with four Democratic candidates, Jen Terrasa, who has reached her three-term limit this year, now plans to run for a House of Delegates seat. Laurel resident Greg Jennings leads the pack with $16,554.03 in the bank, followed by Christiana Rigby, of Columbia, with $10,601.97 on hand. Hiruy Hadgu, of Savage, has $5,375.81. Laurel resident Steve Hunt has $5,326.59.
District 4 also has four candidates, including Democrat Ian Bradley Moller-Knudsen, of Columbia, and Cynthia Fikes, a Democrat from Clarksville, both of whom filed affidavits stating they had raised less $1,000. Democrat Deb Jung of Columbia has $15,561.48 on hand, while Republican Laurel resident Lisa Kim has only $1,738.06. The seat is held by council chairwoman Mary Kay Sigaty, a Democrat.
In District 5, known as the Republican stronghold of the county with a seat held by Republican Greg Fox, Republican Woodbine resident David Yungmann has raised the second highest amount out of all the council candidates with $36,108.10 on hand. Democrat iChina Williams, of Ellicott City, has $10,094.59 on hand and Republican Columbia resident Jim Walsh has $7,469.47 in the bank.
The deadline to file to run is Feb. 27. The primary election is June 26 and the general election is Nov. 6.