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Politics

Maryland gubernatorial hopeful Wes Moore raises most cash as election season approaches

First-time political candidate Wes Moore’s campaign raked in a little more than $4.8 million worth of donations and campaign contributions over the past year, topping a large field of Maryland gubernatorial hopefuls, according to newly filed campaign finance reports.

Moore, a Democrat from Baltimore, raised just over $4 million, while his lieutenant governor running mate, Aruna Miller, tallied about $773,000 in contributions. After spending money on campaign staff and salaries, consultants, lawyers, media, travel and other expenses, the Moore-Miller team heads into the thick of the primary campaign season with $3.1 million in the bank.

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Moore’s campaign promoted the numbers as a sign of enthusiasm for the author, veteran and former nonprofit executive.

“This may be a crowded field, but there is only one campaign with the momentum, the energy, the vision, the path, and now very clearly the resources to win both in June and in November,” campaign manager Ned Miller said in a statement.

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But the biggest campaign war chest in the Democratic primary field belongs to Comptroller Peter Franchot. Franchot and running mate Monique Anderson-Walker have about $3.28 million on hand across three campaign finance accounts, besting Moore’s total.

Franchot relied significantly on a cushion he’s built over years as a statewide officeholder to achieve that bank balance, having started 2021 with $2.2 million in the bank while most of his Democratic rivals started from scratch.

Two former high-ranking federal officials in the Democratic field, former labor secretary Tom Perez and former education secretary John King, also hit the multimillion mark in fundraising. King brought in $2.5 million, while Perez received $2.44 million.

In the smaller Republican field, Kelly Schulz, a former state commerce secretary, raised nearly quadruple that of the other prominent Republican in the race, state Del. Dan Cox. Schulz reported bringing in $1.49 million since she entered the campaign in April, while Cox brought in $378,000.

Schulz’s finance chair, Allison Meyers, noted in a memo to the campaign that Schulz’s fundraising outpaced “any previous fundraising of a non-incumbent Republican in the governor’s race.” Meyers did not name names, but when current Gov. Larry Hogan ran his first campaign for governor in 2014, his first fundraising report showed about $500,000 in contributions, including $100,000 that Hogan loaned to the campaign.

Primary elections will be held June 28 and the general election will be held Nov. 8.

Here’s a breakdown of each candidate’s campaign fundraising reports, which were due to state election officials by 12:01 a.m Thursday and cover the last 12 months of activity:

  • Author and former nonprofit executive Wes Moore of Baltimore raised a little more than $4 million, most of it from individual contributions, though he also received money from other candidates and political action committees for Baltimore firefighters, the Venable law firm and the veterans’ groups With Honor and Vote Vets. Running mate Aruna Miller, a former state delegate from Montgomery County, took in $773,000 in her campaign account. The Moore-Miller campaign spent $1.6 million, leaving the team with about $3.1 million between the two accounts.
  • Current state Comptroller Peter Franchot of Montgomery County and running mate Monique Anderson-Walker, a former Prince George’s County Council member, combined to report having $3.28 million cash on hand.
  • Tom Perez, former federal labor secretary and former head of the Democratic National Committee from Montgomery County has $1.48 million in the bank after taking in $2.4 million in fundraising. Perez also had a federally-regulated exploratory committee that took in $255,000 in donations and spent $233,000 before he officially launched his campaign in June.
  • John King, a former federal education secretary who lives in Montgomery County, raised $2.18 million, but burned through much of that, leaving him with just over $900,000 cash on hand. A combined account with running mate Michelle Siri, the executive director of the Women’s Law Center of Maryland, adds $314,000 to the campaign war chest.
  • Former Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler of Montgomery County raised $509,000, all of it in individual contributions. Gansler came into last year with $428,000 left over from previous campaigns and spent $544,000, leaving his campaign with $393,000 in the bank.
  • Jon Baron, who works in public policy for a philanthropic organization, reported raising $420,000 in contributions over the last year on top of a $1.7 million personal loan Baron and his wife, Jessica, made to their campaign last week. The first-time candidate’s campaign spent $388,000, the majority of it on paying staff, leaving him with just over $1.7 million in cash.
  • Rushern L. Baker III, the former Prince George’s County executive, reported raising just $129,000 since joining the state’s public financing system with running mate Nancy Navarro in the fall. Those donations, however, will unlock about $1 million in matching funds from the state’s public financing system. Baker is the only gubernatorial candidate to participate in the public system, which limits the campaign to accepting up to $250 from individual donors, with no corporate donations. As Baker and Navarro, a Montgomery County councilwoman, take in more small donations, that will unlock further state funds to a maximum of $3 million during the primary election. Before joining the public financing program, Baker raised $202,000 in a conventional campaign account and spent most of it in the early stages of the campaign.
  • Former Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman, who now lives in Baltimore County, is a late entrant into the race, having only formed a campaign committee in December. She raised $109,000 in just a few weeks.
  • Ashwani Jain, an ex-White House staffer who promotes that he’s running an all-volunteer campaign, raised about $103,000 in donations and spent nearly $60,000, mostly on consultants and Facebook ads. He’s left with $43,000 in the bank.
  • Jerome Segal, the founder of the recently-disbanded socialist Bread and Roses Party, filed paperwork saying he did not plan to raise or spend more than $1,000. Segal announced he’d run as a Democrat instead of pressing on with his third-party platform.
  • Republican Kelly Schulz, who recently left her post as commerce secretary under Gov. Larry Hogan, raised $1.49 million but spent about one-third of it, leaving her with about $1 million in the bank.
  • Del. Dan Cox, a Frederick County Republican who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, raised $378,000 in contributions and paid for $15,000 in campaign expenses that he chalked up to personal loans to his campaign. After spending $121,000, Cox’s campaign reported $272,000 in cash on hand as of last week. Cox will have to put his fundraising on hold for the next three months, however, as he and other state lawmakers are banned under state law from accepting donations during the General Assembly’s legislative session, which runs through April 12. Cox’s running mate, Queen Anne’s County lawyer Gordana Schifanelli, had just $7,500 in her account.
  • Perennial anti-tax candidate Robin Ficker, who’s running as a Republican, reported a bank balance of $910,000, attributable largely to more than $1.1 million that he’s loaned to the campaign, including a $914,000 loan he made just before campaign finance reports were due.
  • Republican Joe Werner, a Baltimore County resident, had not filed a campaign finance report by Thursday morning.

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