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Edwards raises $590K in second quarter

Rep. Donna F. Edwards announced her run for Senate via video, jumping into a crowded race to replace retiring Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski. The Democrat was first elected to the House in 2008.

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Donna F. Edwards will report raising $590,000 in her bid for Senate during the second quarter of the year, her campaign said Friday.

The Edwards campaign, which took the unusual step of releasing its fundraising numbers on a federal holiday, said the money was raised from more than 7,500 donors. Edwards, a Prince George's County Democrat, and Rep. Chris Van Hollen are running for the seat that will be left vacant in 2017 by retiring Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski.

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Van Hollen, of Mongtomery County, will report having $3.5 million on hand.

"Donna is building a campaign that reflects the values of Maryland's working families," Edwards campaign spokesman Benjamin Gerdes said in a statement. "Donna's supporters share her passion for progressive values and are committed to electing a fighter who doesn't rely on the money and backing of special interests."

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The Edwards campaign did not disclose how much money it had in the bank, important context that political campaigns usually provide in previews of their official campaign finance report, which will be due to the Federal Election Commission later this month. The Van Hollen campaign, meanwhile, declined to disclose how much it raised.

Without the information, it is difficult to assess how well the campaigns are positioned against each other.

Van Hollen, a prolific fundraiser before he announced his campaign for Senate, will report having "north of" $3.5 million in the bank, an aide said. Because he had $2.7 million on hand at the end of the first quarter, that means he cleared about $1 million -- after expenses -- in the second quarter.

Edwards, by contrast, had about $348,000 on hand at the end of the first quarter, which means the most her campaign could have in the bank now -- assuming it paid no expenses at all -- is about $940,000.

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The timing of Edwards' release is noteworthy, and it demonstrates that the campaign was eager to have as few people see her numbers as possible. Dumping news on the evening before a holiday weekend is a well-worn tradition. Dumping it on the holiday itself -- or the day it is celebrated -- takes that strategy to the next level.

The numbers provided by Edwards and Van Hollen marked the first real glimpse of the fundraising activity that has taken in the state's marque political contest of 2016. The full reports, which will provide far more context, must be filed with the Federal Election Commission later this month.

Money isn't the only factor for a successful candidate, but it is important. Edwards, who has touted her progressive bona fides and frequently spoken on the campaign trail about being a single mother, has a compelling message. But without the money to launch a substantial television campaign it will be hard to convey that message statewide.

The average cost of a winning Senate campaign in 2012 was more than $11 million, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

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