Republican Larry Hogan will pay for his bid for governor with public financing, the first candidate to mount a state-wide general election bid on taxpayer dollars in two decades.
Hogan's campaign will receive a $2.6 million within the next few weeks to finance his race against Democrat Anthony G. Brown, who has proved himself a formidable fundraiser by collecting more than $12 million for the primary election alone.
"The Democratic Party has such a stranglehold on the money in Maryland," Hogan's campaign manager Steve Crim said in an interview. "This will help us level the playing field."
The decision marks a departure from the usual partisan narrative where Democrats decry corporate money in politics and Republicans embrace a corporation's right to free speech.
"Public financing shows that we're not beholden to special interests," Crim said. "In this state, Republican donors are the grassroots, small dollar donors."
The choice also limits how much Hogan can spend on his campaign. Any dollar he raises will be deducted from the $2.6 million given to him by the state, said Jared DeMarinis, director of campaign finance and candidacy at the Maryland State Board of Elections.
Both campaigns can accept a total of $3.7 million in from their respective state and county political parties, which would bring the maximum amount Hogan can spend on the election to $6.3 million.
Brown, the lieutenant governor, flexed his fundraising prowess in the general election, out-raising his closest competitor three to one in 2013 and accumulating $1 million in a single day in May during a fundraiser with former President Bill Clinton.
With candidates facing two media markets in Baltimore and the particularly costly Washington, D.C. suburbs, $6.3 million may not go that far.