As Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake prepares for what could be a challenging election campaign, she is losing her longtime fundraiser.
Colleen Martin-Lauer, a top Democratic Party fundraiser in Maryland, has worked for Gov. Martin O'Malley, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and Rep. Chris Van Hollen on statewide races. She had been with Rawlings-Blake since 2007, and helped her win the 2011 campaign, in which the mayor spent more than $2 million.
The mayor's campaign treasurer, Charles G. Tildon III, portrayed the decision to part ways as mutual.
"The Mayor and Martin-Lauer Associates reached an amicable agreement to move forward in a different direction ahead of the 2016 campaign," Tildon confirmed in a statement Wednesday. "Mayor Rawlings-Blake thanks Colleen Martin-Lauer for her wise counsel over the years and wishes her all the best."
Martin-Lauer did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
There are less than 11 months until the Democratic primary for mayor. To date, no candidate has officially stepped forward to challenge Rawlings-Blake, though several, including former Mayor Sheila Dixon, have said they are considering a run.
Lester Spence, an associate professor of political science at the Johns Hopkins University, said doing without her longtime fundraiser could hurt Rawlings-Blake, because it will take time to transition to a new one. The change also opens up the possibility that Martin-Lauer might raise money for a different candidate.
"She needs to be firing on all cylinders," Spence said of Rawlings-Blake. "She could be in the toughest campaign she's ever faced."
Tildon said Rawlings-Blake has hired Binetti Political Strategies to direct her campaign fund-raising.
"Binetti Political Strategies will spearhead our fundraising operations and advise Mayor Rawlings-Blake as we continue to fill out senior campaign positions over the next several months," Tildon said.
The firm has worked with local candidates in Montgomery, Howard and Baltimore counties in the past, including Sen. Guy Guzzone in Howard, Del. Sheila Hixson in Montgomery, and Councilwoman Vicki Almond in Baltimore County.
Martin-Lauer remains the fundraiser for several members of the Baltimore City Council, including Edward Reisinger, Nick J. Mosby and Brandon Scott. She was the fundraiser in Marilyn J. Mosby's victory in the state's attorney's race as well. Rawlings-Blake's campaign has paid Martin-Lauer more than $500,000 over the years.
City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young has used Martin-Lauer in the past, but employed the Mellinger Group in his successful run in 2011.