Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Lt. Gov. Boyd K. Rutherford reported Tuesday that they raised more than $1 million in roughly a month this spring, bringing their campaign cash total to more than $9 million — far outpacing their Democratic challengers.
The Republican governor’s campaign now has more than twice as much cash as all of the seven major Democratic Party candidates combined.
“Larry Hogan will not be hurting for money,” said St. Mary's College of Maryland political scientist Todd Eberly. “In what could be a bad year for Republicans, holding onto a governorship in a blue state would be a significant win. Of course, once there is a Democratic nominee, the money will start pouring in there, too.”
Seven major Democratic candidates are vying in the June 26 primary for the nomination to run against Hogan in November. All campaigns were required to file fund-raising reports by midnight Tuesday.
Hogan’s best-financed Democratic opponent, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, died suddenly this month and has been replaced by his running mate, Valerie Ervin, a former Montgomery County councilwoman. It appears that Ervin will not be able to access that war chest because it was held in an account belonging only to Kamenetz. Ervin reported having $164,000 on hand Tuesday.
Lawyer Jim Shea, the former chairman of the state’s largest law firm, now leads the cash race among the Democrats.
Shea said Tuesday his campaign had raised almost $700,000 over the last three months and had $1.4 million cash on hand — including many donations from lawyers. He has begun what he says will be a sustained television, print and digital ad push during the final weeks of the campaign.
“We have preserved our resources for the most impact in the final stretch of the campaign,” said Shea’s campaign manager, Brian Doory.
Second in cash among Democrats was former NAACP President Ben Jealous, who collected almost $1 million since January and reported that he has $660,000 on hand for the final month of the campaign.
To reach their fundraising totals, Jealous and running mate Susan Turnbull have depended heavily on out-of-state donations. Combined, the two have collected 21 percent of their money from Marylanders but 42 percent from Californians. Jealous has defended his reliance on out-of-state donors, saying that a Democrat who can’t raise money nationally won’t be able to beat Hogan.
Due to limited funds, only Shea and Jealous have begun running broadcast television ads in the Baltimore market.
Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, considered a front-runner in the field, and his running mate, lawyer Elizabeth Embry, reported about $577,000 in cash on hand.
Baker received maximum $6,000 donations from former Baltimore State’s Attorney Gregg L. Bernstein and from Embry’s father, Abell Foundation President Robert C. Embry Jr., as well as the political arm of the energy giant Exelon. But Baker’s filing showed his campaign is spending money faster than it is raising it.
Eberly said Baker’s fundraising totals have “got to be disappointing to him.”
“This is a really unsettled race,” he said. “No one is running away with this thing.”
Hogan’s campaign chairman, Tom Kelso, said in a memo that the govenor and Rutherford raised $1.2 million from April 10 to May 15, a total he called “an incredible fundraising accomplishment.”
Kelso contrasted the Hogan campaign’s cash on hand with a lesser total held by former Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley and his lieutenant governor, Anthony G. Brown, at a similar point in their re-election campaign.
Other Democrats in the primary campaign said they had raised enough money to remain competitive during the home stretch of a crowded race in which a plurality of votes could be enough to win.
Lawyer Krish Vignarajah, a former policy adviser to first lady Michelle Obama, said she was reporting more than $500,000 cash on hand.
"Krish always says, 'If you want your money spent well, give it to a woman.' We're proud to have among the highest cash on hand and the lowest burn rate in the field,” said Elizabeth Waickman, a campaign spokeswoman.
State Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. of Montgomery County reported that he had qualified for $287,000 in public financing, bringing his cash total to about $305,000.
“We are committed to running a campaign that harnesses grassroots energy,” said campaign manager Keith Presley. “That’s how he will win.”
Tech entrepreneur Alec Ross and his running mate, Julie Verratti, reported they had $206,000 on hand after spending hundreds of thousands on targeted digital advertisng.
“We made the biggest investment in digital of any campaign in the state, spending over $280,000 to communicate directly with voters across MD,” Daniel Ensign, Ross’ deputy campaign manager wrote on Twitter.
Martha McKenna, a Democratic strategist who is not aligned with any candidate in the race, said she believed Ervin and Vignarajah fared well during a recent televised debate and that could help them even if they’re lagging behind other candidates in fundraising.
“In a race this wide open with a month left to go, candidates who have the money to introduce themselves to voters on television will have a definite advantage,” she said. “But both Krish and Valerie had impressive debate performances in first opportunity they had to address voters statewide.”
The Hogan campaign argued that Democrats will have little money left after their primary to challenge him.
John T. Willis, a political scientist at the University of Baltimore, said that the seven-candidate field among the Democrats keeps their totals down.
“The sheer number of them divides the pie significantly,” he said.
“The Democratic nominee will start at a disadvantage, but by October it will be competitive,” Willis said. “The question is what is the message and will that be enough to overcome money.”