Sun Investigates

Rich and powerful choose sides in Maryland governor's race

The Koch brothers. George Soros. Dave Chappelle. Silicon Valley executives. Hollywood actresses.

Across Maryland — and across the country — the rich and famous are choosing sides in the Free State’s 2018 race for governor.

Hundreds of powerful people — from wealthy lawyers to media moguls — have already maxed out their legal donations giving to incumbent Republican Gov. Larry Hogan or one of his seven Democratic party challengers.

Here are some highlights from last week’s campaign finance filings:

• With more than $8 million in his account alone — and more than $9 million if you include Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford’s fundraising — Gov. Larry Hogan has more cash on hand than all his Democratic opponents combined. He has more than 100 donations from individuals and businesses who gave the maximum amount allowable by law — $6,000 — including many business executives from across the state. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s brother Todd gave Hogan the maximum contribution, as did Howard Research and Development, the company that helped build Columbia. Perhaps his highest profile donor is Kansas-based Koch Industries, run by Charles and David Koch, the billionaire conservative financiers.

• Democratic challenger Jim Shea, former chairman of the Venable law firm, has two clear sources of fundraising strength: his legal colleagues and his own deep pockets. Shea has contributed $534,000 to his own campaign and raised $584,000 from more than 200 people connected to Venable. He received more than 100 maximum contributions and has $1.3 million on hand.

• Former NAACP president Ben Jealous, another Democratic challenger, had more than 70 maximum contributions. They include: $12,000 from the comedian Dave Chappelle and his wife Elaine; $12,000 from music executive Kevin Liles and his wife Erika; $12,000 from billionaire George Soros and his son, Gregory; $6,000 from Ben & Jerry’s ice cream co-founder Ben Cohen; and $6,000 from Google vice president Bradley Horowitz. He and his running mate Susan Turnbull have more than $640,000 on hand.

•Tech entrepreneur Alec Ross had more than 70 maximum contributions. They include $12,000 in donations from Fox executive James Murdoch and his wife Kathryn Murdoch; $6,000 from former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and $6,000 from former chairman of Alphabet Inc. Eric Schmidt. Ross has $445,000 on hand.

• Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamentez — who with $2 million on hand is the best-financed Democrat in the field — had more than 25 maximum contributions. More than 92 percent of his contributions were from Maryland, the highest total in the field, and he has a lot of support from Baltimore-area developers. His maximum contributions come from developers Howard Brown, Mark Sapperstein and Edward St. John and $12,000 from family members of Orioles majority owner Peter Angelos.

• Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker has more than 25 maximum contributions and was favored by business executives in the Washington area. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller gave him $6,000, while multi-millionaire Potomac businessman David Trone and his family chipped in $27,000. He has nearly $700,000 on hand.

• Krish Vignarajah, a former policy adviser to former first lady Michelle Obama, has more than 10 maximum donations. A majority of her donations came from women, including actress Ashley Judd, Zipcar co-founder Robin Chase and former Lands End CEO Federica Marchionni. She has $405,000 on hand.

• Montgomery County state Sen. Rich Madaleno has just a handful of maximum donations. He was strongly supported by the family of former Chevy Chase mayor David Lublin, which gave him a combined $18,000. Madaleno has $193,000 on hand, but is expecting to quality for public financing to increase his tally.

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