The money race

Apparently the monetary race for the Republican nomination for governor in Maryland has a surprise leader.

Most people would have repeated the conventional wisdom that Harford County Executive David Craig would have raised the most money by now – after all, he’s been running his 2014 campaign since 2011. While he attracted notice because of what his campaign termed “technical problems” with the software, the bottom-line numbers for 2012 showed Craig raised $231,103 in 2012 and had a cash balance going forward of $200,736. Those figures aren’t too bad for a race two years hence.

However, Craig was outgunned – to the consternation of some – by a lightly regarded contender. Blaine Young has worked hard in raising sufficient funds to wage a serious campaign, and in his 2013 report the Frederick County Commission President asserted that he raised $446,951 and had $349,277 on hand, despite holding a number of fairly costly events to advance his profile.

The spin coming out of the Craig campaign was that:

Until now, we have been running a light operation realizing that the party’s full efforts and finances needed to be invested in the recent national election. I am confident that the work we accomplished this past year, both in terms of fundraising and relationship development will position me as a contender for whichever office I choose to seek.

Interesting that he’s being coy about his choice, since he’s term-limited out of his present job and had all but announced a gubernatorial run last year.

Of course, Young was ecstatic about his returns:

I am proud of the work my campaign put in to accomplishing my fundraising goals to get us to this important step. This early show of support from donors across Maryland lays the groundwork to continue my campaign to be the Republican nominee for Governor in 2014. I am both thrilled and humbled by the report we submitted.

Two other Republicans who have made overtures toward the Governor’s race lag far behind in fundraising. The campaign to draft former Congressional candidate Charles Lollar filed an affidavit that it had neither raised nor spent over $1,000 in the race while onetime Delegate candidate Meyer Marks has no active account on file (but has a website announcing his intention.)

Unfortunately, the Democrats have been hard at work raising money as well, as the following figures show:

  • Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown: $1,247,811 raised ($93,500 from PACs), $1,641,547 on hand.
  • Attorney General Doug Gansler: $1,236,284 raised ($51,620 from PACs), $5,203,796 on hand.
  • Howard County Executive Ken Ulman: $1,139,945 raised ($29,530 from PACs), $2,132,761 on hand.
  • Delegate Heather Mizeur: $244,089 raised ($6,750 from PACs), $349,882 on hand.

So money is likely going to be a GOP disadvantage in this campaign, which means the Republican winner is going to need a tremendous ground game to negate the monetary advantage the Democrat is almost certain to enjoy unless a primarily self-funding millionaire – think Rob Sobhani – gets into the race.

One might ask about the possible entry of Larry Hogan into the fray, but something I didn’t realize about the Change Maryland chairman is that he incurred $325,000 in loan debt to himself during his abortive 2010 race for governor. (His 2012 report, the latest available, was filed in July, 2011.) So he would start from less than zero, which suggests to me we may have just a three-person race if Lollar decides to run.

But it’s always seemed that the Republicans compete with a monetary disadvantage. I could have stayed up all night looking up some of the businesses and special interests which seem to contribute solely to the Democrats in this pay-for-play atmosphere if I felt like going through over 100 pages of contributions to each campaign but Delegate Mizeur’s. Surely the same is true for downticket races, too.

So it looks like we’ll have to work harder and smarter, which I have no doubt we’re capable of. At least with a June primary we’ll know who our standardbearers are and have more time to point out the obvious deficiencies in the record of the Democratic nominee.