Heading into the post-Labor Day homestretch of Maryland’s governor’s race, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan has about $9 million more in campaign cash than his Democratic challenger Ben Jealous, according to fundraising totals.
The Jealous campaign said Tuesday the former NAACP president and his running mate Susan Turnbull had raised more than $1 million in about two months, but only had about $386,000 on hand — compared to more than $9.4 million for the Hogan campaign.
Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College, called Hogan’s cash advantage “substantial.”
“This presents a lot of structural disadvantages for the Jealous campaign,” Kromer said. “You’re talking about salaries, campaign signs, operatives, polls. All these things matter. All these things cost money. It’s not the position they want to be in.”
The fundraising totals underscore that Jealous faces an uphill battle competing against a well-financed incumbent, she said.
“It’s not game over, but Jealous is clearly the underdog in this situation, which is a weird place to be as the Democrat in Maryland,” Kromer said.
Nevertheless, Jealous campaign manager Travis Tazelaar said he is not intimidated by the Republican governor’s cash advantage. In solidly Democratic Maryland, Tazelaar said he believes increased turnout driven by an expected national “blue wave” of outrage at President Donald Trump will help Jealous win in November.
“Our fundraising totals show we’re on pace to have the resources we need to win on Election Day, and Larry Hogan’s barrage of negative campaigning isn’t slowing our growth,” Tazelaar said in a statement. “Already we have funded more organizers and offices than were operating in 2014 while continuing to bank funds needed for an advertising campaign in the coming weeks.”
Tazelaar said the Democratic Party’s coordinated campaign has hired more than 30 organizers statewide, more than double from Election Day 2014. By next month, 60 organizers will be on the ground with at least 20 offices open, he added. He said the Democratic Party’s campaign for Jealous has made nearly 50,000 voter contacts statewide in about a month.
“All indicators point to the Blue Wave coming to Maryland and being large enough that not even the millions of dollars in negative advertising from Larry Hogan will be enough to stave off a Ben Jealous victory,” Tazelaar wrote.
In Maryland, Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-to-1.
Tazelaar added that 97 percent of the money Jealous raised since June 11 came from individual donors, and the average contribution to Friends of Ben Jealous is $42.
Hogan’s campaign had a different take.
“This fundraising report is just the latest indignity to face the Jealous campaign, but today stands out for the darkness of the storm clouds that have gathered over them,” Hogan campaign manager Jim Barnett said in a statement.
On Monday, Hogan’s re-election campaign said it raised more than $2.5 million in little more than two months — allowing the Republican governor and running mate Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford to maintain a formidable war chest headed into the race’s final months before the Nov. 6 election.
Despite recent pricey television ad buys, Hogan’s campaign has more than $9.4 million on hand — significantly more than former Gov. Martin O’Malley had at this time during the Democrat’s successful re-election run — and about 24 times more than Jealous currently has.
“I am pleased to report that we have exceeded our fundraising objectives,” Hogan campaign chairman Tom Kelso wrote in a memo released to reporters.
Kelso wrote that 94 percent of Hogan donors are Marylanders and 66 percent are small donors, who gave $250 or less, “which demonstrates the depth of that support at the grassroots level.”
The Republican Governors Association also has spent more than $2.2 million on independent expenditures to benefit Hogan — mainly on attack ads against Jealous.
For the last week the Hogan campaign has been saturating the state with at least $1 million in television ads touting his claim that he has made Maryland a more affordable place to live. Jealous has not yet purchased air time to counter the attacks against him or the positive spin on Hogan’s first term.
Former State Sen. Clarence Mitchell IV — the host of the "C4 Show" on WBAL radio — questioned why more national Democratic organizations aren’t coming to Jealous’ aid the way the Republican Governors Association is boosting Hogan.
“Where is the Democratic Governors Association? Why is Ben Jealous trying to raise money by himself? Where are the support systems?” Mitchell asked. “You would think there would be more efforts from national organizations to help Ben Jealous. If the Democratic Governors Association is not coming to a blue state, what does that say about where the Democratic Party is?”
Even so, Mitchell said he does not believe Jealous is already out of the race. Four years ago, Hogan himself trailed Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown — both in campaign cash and by double-digits in polls — heading into the campaign’s final month.
“It’s not out of reach for Jealous,” Mitchell said. “But the way the national Democratic Party is acting, they make it seem like it’s out of reach.”