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Elections

Maryland Gov. elect Wes Moore spent 5 times as much as Dan Cox down the stretch and still had $2.7M left after his commanding win

In Gov.-elect Wes Moore’s blowout victory over Republican Dan Cox earlier this month, the winning candidate spent five times more than his opponent in the final two-and-a-half months of the race and still had millions left over after Election Day, new campaign finance reports show.

Moore consistently outraised Cox in the general election and other more experienced candidates in the crowded Democratic primary earlier this year — fueling a robust campaign effort that led to the largest win by any candidate for governor in Maryland since 1986.

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The Democrat and his running mate ultimately raised $6.4 million and spent $5.1 million since the campaigns started heating up in late August, bringing their total fundraising haul to about $17 million since Moore launched his campaign in mid-2021, his and Lt. Gov.-elect Aruna Miller’s reports show.

Cox raised $731,000 and spent $939,000 since late August. He and his running mate raised and spent about $1.6 million in their entire campaign dating back to last year.

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Moore and Miller reported having nearly $2.7 million left in the bank as of Nov. 15 while Cox’s primary account was in the red and showed that he owed himself for expenses he listed as loans.

Gov.-elect Wes Moore, second from left, declares victory over Republican opponent Dan Cox. Moore celebrates with Lt. Gov.-elect Aruna Miller, left, Comptroller-elect Brooke Lierman and incoming Attorney General Anthony Brown at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront on election night.

Despite polls showing Moore holding a substantial lead in the final weeks of the race, the Democratic nominee continued to spend aggressively on advertisements and other campaign operations, saying he wasn’t taking anything for granted in a state where Republicans had won three of the previous five gubernatorial elections.

His latest reports, covering Oct. 24 to Nov. 15, show he spent $869,000 on television, digital and other types of ads in the final stretch of the race. Earlier spending in October had included nearly $1.7 million on similar media purchases.

They also spent $306,000 on salaries and other staff compensation, including travel, and $399,000 on field expenses that included almost $90,400 for Marriott Hotel Services around the time he had his election night party at the Marriott Waterfront in Baltimore.

Cox spent much of his money on ads, including about $150,000 in the final few weeks and $160,000 earlier in October — though the latter figure was originally reported as far less a month ago and was corrected only on Nov. 22.

The ads Cox bought with fewer resources were a smaller amount of inexpensive ads across cable channels like ESPN, the NFL Network and The Weather Channel.

Meanwhile, Moore was tapping his more expansive war chest for hundreds of television spots across the major networks, including expensive $15,000 to $21,000 purchases of 30-second spots during the Ravens’ Monday Night Football game on the eve of the election.

The Republican candidate, as he had done in previous campaign reports, also listed both contributions and expenses as loans to himself and his family. His report filed Tuesday shows that on the day after the election, he charged his campaign $31,940.62 for mileage incurred during the campaign. On the same day, he charged the campaign for $13,656 — the purpose for which, he noted, was because he personally paid for the salaries of what appear to be two of his children who worked on the campaign.

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Cox’s total fundraising and spending, meanwhile, was dwarfed by the roughly $12 million that Republican Gov. Larry Hogan spent on his reelection campaign in 2018 and the $5 million he and other Republicans spent on his behalf during the 2014 general election.

In his concession statement, Cox railed against Hogan for not supporting his campaign while crediting former President Donald Trump, who, “without him, we would not have raised the money necessary to run a competent and successful race.”

Trump hosted a fundraiser last month for Cox at Mar-a-Lago — charging the Maryland Republican $24,196 in the process. Cox’s campaign finance reports do not disclose specifically how much he raised there.

Dan Cox, Republican running in the gubernatorial election in Maryland, gestures to his supporters before leaving the stage on election night.

Moore, who national Democratic leaders boosted throughout the fall, ended up winning by about 32 percentage points statewide. He performed better than the last two Democratic gubernatorial nominees in every county.

The latest campaign finance reports also indicate he ultimately raised and spent more than them, too. Democrat Ben Jealous spent about $3.8 million in 2018 and Democrat Anthony Brown spent about $6.6 million in 2014 in their losses to Hogan.

Brown stayed quiet, repaid long-standing loan to himself

Comptroller-elect Brooke Lierman and Attorney General-elect Anthony Brown also both significantly outraised their Republican opponents — but what they did with that money was completely different, the new reports show.

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Brown, whose 65% of the vote was slightly larger than both Moore’s and Lierman’s, didn’t spend any money on ads in the general election against Republican Michael Peroutka in the race to succeed Attorney General Brian Frosh.

Brown instead paid back $302,109 in loans he had made to his campaign — most of which didn’t even originate from his bid for office this year.

The former lieutenant governor and current U.S. congressman had lent his state campaign committee most of that money in 2016 after he won his first congressional primary and he also was still paying back a $500,000 union-backed loan from his gubernatorial campaign two years earlier, The Baltimore Sun previously reported.

Brown paid down the loan to the Laborers Political League Education Fund in 2017, but still owed $221,000 to himself heading into his attorney general campaign last year, records show. Another $81,250 personal loan at the end of his competitive primary with former Judge Katie Curran O’Malley in July pushed that amount higher.

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The loan repayment was ultimately most of the roughly $471,000 Brown spent between late August and the election this month. He raised $675,000 from donors in that time — a period in which Peroutka raised $75,000, mostly from his own $40,000 personal loan in October, and spent $103,000.

Peroutka, a far-right Republican who had advocated for southern secession as a member of a white nationalist hate group, lent his campaign $70,000 total between the primary and general elections.

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Lierman kept up aggressive media campaign

Lierman, meanwhile, kept up an aggressive spending spree as she defeated Republican Barry Glassman in the race to succeed longtime Comptroller Peter Franchot.

A state lawmaker from Baltimore, Lierman became a prolific fundraiser in her first bid for statewide office. In nearly two full years of campaigning, she reported raising more than $3.6 million and spending $4 million, including for a competitive primary race, her reports show.

Glassman, the Harford County executive and former state senator, raised about $400,000 and spent about $800,000 in 2021 and 2022, his reports show.

A moderate Republican, he was the only statewide Republican candidate to secure Hogan’s endorsement. Hogan was featured in a widely used television ad for Glassman in which they branded themselves “the middlemen” who could be a “moderate check on one-party government.”

The latest campaign finance reports show Glassman spent $405,000 on television and other ads in the final months of the race as Lierman poured $703,000 into ads during the same period. Though Glassman outperformed all other statewide Republicans in every county, Lierman won by a comfortable 23 percentage points.


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