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Maryland Democratic candidates for governor report cash ready for final push

The remaining six major Democratic candidates for governor met for their final debate this week.
The remaining six major Democratic candidates for governor met for their final debate this week. (Michael Dresser / The Baltimore Sun)

With just over a week to go until election day, the front-runners in the Democratic primary for Maryland governor on Friday reported having enough money for a final push of TV ads and get-out-the-vote efforts.

But Republican Gov. Larry Hogan was set to report a massive campaign account — nearly $10 million, far more than all the Democrats combined.

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In the latest campaign finance filings due Friday, former NAACP president Ben Jealous reported having $385,000 in cash on hand. His chief competitor, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, reported having $245,000.

The reports cover campaign activity during a 25-day finance reporting period from May 16 through June 10.

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Madeleine Russak, a spokesman for Baker, said the campaign has been picking up momentum, raising more than $200,000 during the short reporting period.

“Grassroots support is growing across the state,” Russak said.

Jealous, meanwhile, raised about $380,000 during the period. Jealous showed an uptick in money raised from in-state donors. Where previously Marylanders accounted for about 20 percent of his contributions, the most recent report shows 42 percent of his money came from in state.

“In the final weeks of this campaign, Marylanders continue to make it clear that this is the campaign they are willing to invest in,” campaign manager Travis Tazelaar said in a statement.

Jealous is also benefiting from outside groups that are spending nearly $1 million on his behalf.

Baker and Jealous are tied in the primary race with 16 percent of the vote each, according to a poll of registered likely voters for The Baltimore Sun and University of Baltimore published Sunday.

Though Baker and Jealous lead the pack, most Democratic voters are disengaged from the contest and have not made up their minds about the June 26 primary election, the poll showed. Forty-four percent of voters said they are undecided, and 57 percent said they have paid “only a little” attention to race. Early voting began Thursday and runs through June 21.

A new Baltimore Sun-University of Baltimore poll has found that with less than three weeks until the Democratic primary election for governor, two candidates have broken away from the crowded pack, though a huge swath of voters are undecided and haven't been paying attention to the race.

Baltimore attorney Jim Shea was poised to report having the most cash on hand of any Democrat in the race, with $565,000 in the bank after raising $163,000.

Krish Vignarajah, a former policy adviser to Michelle Obama, reported having nearly $500,000 on hand after spending little money.

“Unlike many of her opponents, Krish has enough cash on hand to stay on TV across every corner of the state until election day,” said Elizabeth Waickman, a campaign spokeswoman.

The Vignarajah campaign is running TV commercials in an ad buy that cost $200,000, and the campaign bought another $90,000 worth of air time Friday.

Alec Ross, an author and alumnus of the Obama administration, reported having about $181,000 in cash on hand.

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State Sen. Richard Madaleno, who is using public financing for his campaign, had about $16,000 on hand after receiving nearly $50,000 in donations and $290,000 in state matching funds during the reporting period, according to his campaign.The campaign is expecting another $27,000 in matching funds.

During an often sleepy Democratic primary for governor Maryland primary voters are finding that the most compelling races are located further down the ballot.

Martha McKenna, a Democratic political strategist, said some of the cash on hand reports could be misleading, as some campaigns may have money parked at TV stations where they bought ads in advance.

She said front-runners Baker and Jealous should have adequate money for the remainder of the campaign, but said Vignarajah’s strategy of holding onto money for the final push may be shrewd.

“Candidates can have a come-from-behind victory if they run a really strong final week,” she said.

The campaign of the late Kevin Kamenetz, who died May 10, reported about $5,800 in his account after making more than $1.3 million in donations to scholarships and charities this week.

Valerie Ervin, who was Kamenetz’s running mate and ran on her own after his death, reported having $164,000 in her account. Ervin dropped her bid this week and endorsed Baker.

Ervin raised only $600 during the reporting period, which included $500 from former congresswoman Donna Edwards, a friend who is running for Prince George’s County executive.

Prominent Baltimore lawmaker Del. Curt Anderson is under an ethics investigation for alleged sexual misconduct and harassment.

Hogan, who is running unopposed in the Republican primary, continued to rake in money for his re-election effort. Hogan’s campaign reported Friday raising $906,000 during the reporting period.

Hogan and Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford were prepared to report having $9.4 million cash on hand in reports to be filed late Friday, according to a memo from campaign chairman Tom Kelso.

Kelso said the Democratic nominee will emerge “battered, bruised and nearly broke” from the June 26 primary.

“With the governor’s 75 percent approval rating and more than $9 million in our bank account, we could not ask to be in a stronger position as we approach the general election,” Kelso wrote.

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