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Spending in Howard county executive race eclipses $1 million

New campaign finance reports show Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman has more cash on hand than his Democratic opponent, Calvin Ball, and spending in the race has topped $1 million.

Kittleman, a Republican, has $268,253.47, and Ball has $173,992 in their campaign accounts, according to the reports, the last ones released before next Tuesday’s general election.

Since August, Ball has raised $121,238.68. The outgoing county councilman, who represents Oakland Mills and parts of Ellicott City, has since the end of August spent $337,476.18 on his campaign. The report notes Ball spent $216,176.00 on media, $14,773.83 on printing and campaign materials and $5,197.13 on banking charges including wire transfer fees, according to campaign spokesman Jamila Ratliff.

Ball received $4,500 in donations from three Virginia-based companies including Nova Oil, whose registering officer is based in Fairfax. The Democrat received $500 from Sheet Metal Workers Local Union No. 100 and $4,000 from the local and state branches of Service Employees International Union. Multiple local and national politicians including Shelley Hettleman, a delegate for the state legislature, U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen and a committee affiliated with Sen. Ben Cardin donated more than $6,000.

Kittleman’s report notes his campaign has spent $671,969.88 since August, including $464,058.72 on media and $91,547.04 on direct mail.

Williams Companies, an energy company based in Tulsa, gave the Republican $5,000 earlier this month. Kittleman received $6,000 from from Buch Construction Inc. by way of its owners, Ellen and Mike Buch. Fairfax Holding Company, a Canada-based financial holdings company, gave Kittleman $1,000 under a Laurel post office box address. Gula Tech, a venture capital firm, donated $6,000 to Kittleman. Maryland Business for Responsive Government through its PAC donated $1,000. The Howard County Police Officers Association political action committee gave $3,700. M&T and Wilmington Trust PAC gave the Republican $1,000.

Kittleman’s campaign returned $2,000 to a woman because her donations exceeded the legally allowed limit, according Sean Murphy, a Kittleman spokesman.

Kittleman, in his first campaign for executive four years ago, had $204,800.32 on hand in the same time period. Then-Councilwoman Courtney Watson, his Democratic opponent, had $259,605.88.

In the race for five seats on the County Council, most candidates have less than $6,000 cash on hand.

Political candidates at the local level often struggle to see big financial donations in part because they are not covered as intensely as federal and gubernatorial races, according to Todd Eberly, political science professor at St. Mary's College of Maryland.

“People don’t give money to people they don’t know,” Eberly said.

The lack of donations also stems from the fact local lawmakers do not determine political hot topics such as concealed-carry gun permits and abortion rights, Eberly said.

“It is harder to generate the interest and money in races” that aren’t the deciding votes in these issues, he said.

In council District 2, however, Opel Jones, a Democrat, has $11,162.52 in cash, while his Republican opponent, John Liao, has $5,601.68.

Candidates in District 5 have the largest amount of cash on hand. David Yungmann, a Republican, has $19,777.06. He has since the end of August received $12,895.00. Buch Construction donated $3,000 and Howard Research & Development donated $3,500. China Williams, his Democratic opponent, has $20,767.34 cash on hand. Williams, within five months of announcing her candidacy, collected $11,680.00.

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