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Politics

Wes Moore on a monetary roll heading into Maryland’s gubernatorial election, latest finance reports show

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Wes Moore, fresh off a competitive primary in which he outraised and outspent more experienced political opponents, has kept up a robust fundraising pace with just under $1.5 million on hand heading into Maryland’s fall election season — more than tenfold the amount his Republican opponent reported, new campaign finance reports show.

Moore raised $1.7 million in the five weeks after the July 19 primary, and $2.3 million total since the last campaign finance update in early July, according to reports filed Tuesday.

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Cox, who struggled to raise large sums during the primary and, according to many political observers, faces long odds in November, raised $204,000 and spent $252,000 during that same five-week time period, leaving a balance that includes some earlier money of $141,000, his report shows.

Moore — an author, former nonprofit leader and first-time candidate for office — was the most prolific fundraiser in the sprawling 10-way Democratic primary.

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Facing opponents who had held prominent national offices or had won multiple statewide elections in the past, Moore developed the largest individual donor base as well as some of the highest-profile endorsers.

While he raised money with the help of his friend Oprah Winfrey, he also had a median contribution of $63, and most of his donors were Maryland residents heading into the primary.

His campaign said Tuesday that the latest round of fundraising puts him in a strong position to run an “aggressive voter outreach program” this fall.

The figures released Tuesday include all fundraising and spending from July 4 — about two weeks before the primary — to Aug. 23. It does not include money Moore would have raised Thursday during or after his high-profile rally with President Joe Biden in Rockville.

Governor primary wrap-up

Both the Republican and Democratic nominating contests for governor saw massive fundraising and spending just ahead of the July 19 primary as the candidates attempted to reach a large swath of undecided voters.

Eight of the major Democratic candidates and the top two Republicans spent a total of $7.3 million in the 3 1/2 weeks leading up to early in-person voting, which started July 7, their early July finance reports show.

That momentum continued in the final two weeks leading to the primary election, the latest reports show.

Moore, who spent almost $1.4 million on television and online advertising in the weeks leading up to early voting, spent an additional $715,000 on such ads, which included radio, in the final two weeks of the race, according to the latest filings. That far outpaced his opponents.

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Former U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez and Comptroller Peter Franchot — the runners-up — spent $569,000 and $410,000, respectively, on what was primarily television ads in those two weeks, their filings show. Both candidates had poured about $715,000 into those media expenses from early June to early July.

After July 4, they each raised about $415,000 and spent about $1 million total, the records show.

Franchot, a moderate who had his best showing in more conservative areas of the state, such as the Eastern Shore and Western Maryland, also continued to be the only candidate who spent significantly on direct-mail ads. He spent $285,000 on such ads — typically flyers that fill voters’ mailboxes — from June to early July and then an additional $200,000 in the last two weeks, the records show.

Moore ultimately won with just under a third of the overall vote, narrowly beating Perez, who had 30%, and Franchot, who had 21%.

No other candidate collected more than 4% of the vote. That included former U.S. Education Secretary John King, who also raised and spent millions, and former state Attorney General Doug Gansler and former Clinton administration official Jon Baron, who both spent significant sums of their own personal fortunes on their campaigns.

On the Republican side, Cox, endorsed by former President Donald Trump, defeated former state Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz in the primary, 52% to 43%, without getting close to the fundraising and spending figures Schulz reached.

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Endorsed by Hogan and other Republican officeholders, Schulz spent more than $483,000 on television and online ads in the final weeks of the race in addition to direct-mail ads and robocalls, her latest filing shows. She spent a total of $943,000 after July 4, including tens of thousands on political consultants.

Cox and his running mate spent about a quarter of what Schulz spent after July 4. The $153,000 he spent on media included only a small fraction on television as it focused more on radio and robocalls, his report shows.

Schulz and Hogan, who has refused to support Cox in the general election, attributed Cox’s win to national Democrats, who spent far more on Cox ads than the candidate did himself.

The Democratic Governors Association’s ads referred to Cox’s conservative bona fides and his close relationship with Trump. The group said the ads were critical and a way of getting a head start before the general election. But to others, it was an attempt to help Cox win the primary because he would be easier for a Democrat to beat in the fall.

The governors association has not taken any new steps to spend money in Maryland since the roughly $2 million in Cox ads in early July.

Comptroller

Democratic nominee for comptroller Brooke Lierman reported having $223,000 in her campaign fund Tuesday. The second-term Baltimore delegate, who has consistently enjoyed a healthy number of donations from her supporters, reported raising over $350,000 since her last report was filed.

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Lierman, who swept Bowie Mayor Tim Adams in the primary election, spent nearly $400,000 on TV advertisements, $30,000 on phone banks and $3,500 on polling since July 4.

Republican Harford County Executive Barry Glassman, uncontested during the primary, reported $443,000 as of Tuesday, raising $29,000 since the last report deadline. His campaign has spent a little over $38,000 since July 19, including $23,000 in media and advertising and a $500 donation to Moore’s gubernatorial campaign.

Glassman, a moderate Republican in comparison to the 2020 election-denying Cox and conspiracy theorist Michael Peroutka, the Republican attorney general nominee, has rejected party unity to run an “independent” campaign this fall.

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Moore spokesman Brian Adam Jones told The Baltimore Sun the Moore campaign redirected Glassman’s money to Lierman.

“While we appreciate his generous support, we decided it would best be used investing in the clear choice for Maryland comptroller, and we have proudly donated $500 to the campaign of Brooke Lierman,” Jones wrote.

Attorney general

In comparison to other statewide hopefuls, neither nominee for attorney general had much cash as of Tuesday’s deadline — though U.S. Rep. Anthony Brown’s war chest was nearly twice the size of Peroutka’s.

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Brown, who bested former Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Katie Curran O’Malley for the Democratic Party’s nomination, reported $80,000 in his campaign account after collecting over $150,000 since early July. The former lieutenant governor spent nearly $350,000 on TV commercials during the primary.

Peroutka had approximately $36,000 Tuesday.

Peroutka received $21,000 from individual donors since filing his July 4 report, and spent $37,000 mostly on yard signs and radio ads.

He has lent $30,000 of his own money to his campaign since February.


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