Aberdeen Mayor Mike Bennett appears to have been outspent by challenger Patrick McGrady in the recent city election campaign, as McGrady mostly used his own money to almost unseat the two-term incumbent, city campaign spending reports show.
Bennett won the Nov. 8 contest by a mere 25 votes, a result that was closer than many people active in city politics expected.
Though McGrady's campaign seemed to pick up momentum in the final days following a city ethics commission ruling against the mayor regarding a trip he made to Georgia on behalf of Aberdeen's Ripken Baseball, the campaign finance reports show the challenger wasn't adverse to spending money on mailers and signs throughout the campaign.
The first three campaign finance reports released by the candidates' treasurers, which cover Sept. 9 through Nov. 29, show Bennett's campaign ultimately spent $6,792.79 during that period. McGrady's spent $8,237.34 for signs and mailers, plus about $50 on incidentals.
Bennett's campaign spent more this year than in 2009, when it spent $5,159 against competitors Mike Hiob and Barbara Osborn Kreamer, both whom Bennett easily outdistanced.
McGrady's campaign said it was still carrying $8,237.34 in debt, all of it loaned by the candidate through purchases from BriteStar for mailers, as well as Allsigns and Consolidated Printing for yard signs and other literature.
Bennett's campaign did not show any outstanding debt at the end of the last reporting period.
The mayor's campaign received far more in contributions, totaling $7,240.42, as of the last report.
Bennett's campaign received $1,000, the maximum permissible contribution, from Butler Service Company in Baltimore, Chesapeake Hotel Corporation in Aberdeen, Carsins Run LLC in Baltimore and Middleton Holdings LLC in Baltimore.
McGrady's campaign received $2,020 in contributions, the largest being $500 from The Committee to Elect (State. Sen.) Nancy Jacobs. Chesapeake Political Action Committee (for U.S. Rep Andy Harris) donated $150.
With the exception of $50, none of McGrady's outside contributions has been spent, according to the reports, the last of which showed a cash balance of $1,969.59. The Bennett campaign reported having a cash balance of $687.61, according to its latest report.
McGrady couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday about whether he intends to forgive all or part of the loans; however, both candidates' treasurers indicated on their most recent reports that they would be filing another report.
The four incumbent members of the Aberdeen City Council also reported receiving campaign contributions and spending more than $1,000 during their re-election campaign, although there were no challengers.
Councilwoman Sandra Landbeck's campaign spent the most, at $3,099.50. The campaign received $3,100 in contributions, including $1,000 from Frank Olga of Baltimore.
Councilman Bruce Garner's campaign received $1,250 from two donors and spent $1,000.
Councilwoman Ruth Elliott's campaign spent $1,699.39. It received $1,750 in contributions, including $1,000 from Constant Friendship and $750 from Stepney LLC.
Councilwoman Ruth Ann Young's campaign spent $1,353.73, but did not receive any campaign contributions from outside sources.
Bennett and the four council members were elected to four-year terms. A city charter amendment passed by the current council in 2010 extended term lengths from two years to four years effective with the 2011 election.