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Elections

What’s behind Maryland governor candidates’ hefty fundraising numbers?

For a race with no candidate consistently polling higher than the low double digits, the fundraising numbers are eye-opening.

A half-dozen Democrats and one Republican hoping to become Maryland’s next governor reported last month having about $1 million in their campaign bank accounts — a substantial amount each could use to court undecided voters in the weeks before the primary.

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But not all those war chests are a measure of strong support from Maryland voters. Some aren’t a measure of support from voters anywhere.

Behind the top-line numbers, the candidates’ reports showed a few had primarily self-funded their campaigns or collected up to 80% of their money from outside Maryland.

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Nine Democrats and four Republicans are running to replace two-term Republican Gov. Larry Hogan in the July 19 primary.

On Friday, they’ll file their last required fundraising reports before primary day. Here are some takeaways from their fundraising and spending disclosures so far this year, based on the reports covering mid-January through June 7.

Who’s fundraising in Maryland?

The Democratic primary is packed with candidates who have already held statewide office for several years or who have held prominent national roles — giving them name recognition not just across Maryland, but nationwide.

Former U.S. Education Secretary John King and former U.S. Labor Secretary and Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez seemed to benefit from their national profiles, raising the highest percentage of their funds from out of state.

King raised $697,670 from donors outside Maryland from mid-January to June 7, which was 80% of his total. Perez raised just under $900,000 from non-Marylanders, about 65% of his fundraising haul for the period.

Wes Moore, a bestselling author and former nonprofit leader, raised slightly more than Perez from outside Maryland — about $903,500 — but it was 37% of his larger $2.4 million sum of contributions. Moore has led in both fundraising and cash-on-hand, carrying $2.1 million into the final weeks of the campaign.

Both of the leading Republicans had more of their support coming from Maryland residents. Just 8% of Kelly Schulz’s $854,000 raised and 13% of Dan Cox’s $170,000 raised came from outside the state.

Contributions per campaign by ZIP code

Five leading Democrats:




Two leading Republicans:



Reflects contributions reported by campaign committees for the gubernatorial candidates, their running mates and slates for the pre-primary transaction period, covering Jan. 13 through June 7

Source: Maryland Campaign Information Reporting System

Who has the most donors?

Moore, a first-time candidate for public office, has racked up a considerably larger base of donors than other candidates.

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Roughly 4,200 individual contributors donated to his campaign in that January to June 7 period, according to an analysis by The Baltimore Sun using unique combinations of contributor’s names and ZIP codes.

Next was King, who counted about 2,240 people among his donors for the period.

Peter Franchot, the four-term comptroller and another leading contender for the gubernatorial nomination, had about 700 donors who made up the $580,700 he raised in the period.

Schulz, a former state delegate and cabinet secretary in Hogan’s administration, received donations from about 2,030 donors while Cox, a first-term delegate, had about 520 donors.

How much are donors giving?

Some of the candidates have also boasted about their support from small-dollar donors.

Moore’s campaign, in a June news release, said its numbers “were unparalleled in their small-dollar and grassroots nature, with 70% of contributions $100 or less.” King’s campaign similarly claimed 77% of its contributions have been $100 or less.

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According to the reports, King had the smallest median contribution during the first half of the year, at $25. Perez was next at $50 and then Moore at $63. Republicans Schulz and Cox both had a median contribution of $100.

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Among the larger donations, both Perez and Moore had around 100 donors who contributed the $6,000 maximum allowed under state law. Moore also had by far the most contributions of at least $1,000 — with 791 such donations, compared with 390 for Perez, 223 for Franchot and 168 for King.

Who’s opening their own wallets?

Two other Democrats and one Republican had significant amounts of campaign cash in the bank, but primarily because they were tapping their own personal fortunes.

Former Clinton White House official Jon Baron, who’s been producing comical ads of him shaving or walking up a downward-moving Metro escalator, has funded his campaign primarily with a $1.7 million personal loan.

He also raised $200,000 in the last period, leaving him with $1.6 million — about the same amount as Franchot.

Former Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler, meanwhile, raised nearly $300,000 in the period, but his $1 million cash-on-hand was largely due to an $800,000 personal loan he gave his committee in April, according to his report.

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For the Republicans, perennial candidate Robin Ficker reported having $327,000 after personally lending his campaign about $1.2 million.

Data journalist Steve Earley contributed to this article.


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