A pre-primary crop failure for two GOP candidates

I know those involved in one of the two campaigns involved were optimistic about making the deadline, but the Washington Post is reporting that neither Ron George nor David Craig collected enough “seed money” to qualify for public financing before the June 3 primary deadline. Because of that, Larry Hogan will pick up an additional $275,000 monetary advantage over his fellow contenders, and that’s big when the three others combined don’t have $275,000 in the bank between them right now:

  • Charles Lollar – $17,999.87
  • Ron George – $28,943.61 (includes $18,000 in loans)
  • David Craig – $144,058.54

Conversely, Hogan has $389,206.92 in the bank, an account which includes $500,000 in loans to himself and over $100,000 in additional in-kind contributions, donations from related LLC entities, and so forth from his personal coffers. But he spent enough on fundraising to secure the $258,642 in seed money to qualify for public financing.

There’s no question that this will help Hogan, who had burned through $342,007.24 in the preceding six weeks before financial reports were due last month. The Hogan campaign announced a fortnight-long bus tour yesterday, and the extra money can make this a two-pronged final push for him between television ads and the bus tour. Even with all that, Larry should comfortably remain short of the $2.6 million primary limit imposed by public financing.

Of course, each campaign is going to spin this different ways – for example, Lollar’s running mate Ken Timmerman touts the campaign’s “grass roots army”:

You see, other candidates plan expensive advertising campaigns, with air-dropped TV and radio spots that tell you nothing about their character or their plans.

Charles and I are proud to fight at the grassroots, where we are already preparing the way for victory in November by working with Democrats who share our concerns over the future of this state and who share our conservative values and non-partisan solutions.

It’s a nice sentiment, but time after time I’ve watched the candidate who raises the most walk away with the nomination or election over the others who pretend grassroots can carry them. In a local election grassroots goes a long way, but it’s hard to gather that many volunteers to effectively spread a message like media can for a statewide bid. Of the four, Charles was the only one eschewing public financing but his fundraising totals have always trailed the pack regardless.

For their part, George and Craig have (and rightfully so) questioned the extent of collaboration and coordination between Change Maryland and Hogan’s campaign. I’m concerned about the timeline between the January 21 official announcement (remember, the one which was snowed out) and the February 3 beginning of Hogan campaign records. What did Change Maryland spend money on in the interim?

Of the remaining candidates, Craig probably has enough money to adequately compete in the primary but would have to get cracking on seed money collections for the general election, for which he has until September 15 to qualify. But losing out on an extra $15,000 or so a day until the primary could be a damaging blow for those who were hoping to take advantage of the former checkoff.

5 thoughts on “A pre-primary crop failure for two GOP candidates”

  1. So you’re saying that we’re probably stuck with the wealthy vanity candidate funded by the government?

    Well that sucks.

  2. First of all public funding is not funded by the Government. It is funded by voluntary contributions and the money can not be used for any other purpose. The last time it was used was by Ellen Sauerbrey in 1994. Since when it being wealthy a negative. Larry has worked hard to build up a successful business. He understands what it is like to have to meet a payroll and comply with government regulations. It is important to realize that Larry has over 3,200 individual contributors and raised more money since January than the other candidates did in a year and that is without his personal funds. The personal money is a sign that Larry is committed and willing to put “skin” in the game.

  3. Yet the question, Bob, is whether Larry’s campaign would have been nearly as effective without the infusion of personal funds that began on day 1, with a $50,000 loan to his effort. It’s not like I didn’t know Larry wasn’t capable of doing this because in 2010 he lent $300,000 to his abortive gubernatorial run then.

    But if a wealthy Democrat had turned to public financing to fund his or her campaign yet found the wherewithal to loan the effort $500,000 many of Hogan’s prime supporters would be screaming “hypocrisy!” at the top of their lungs. If Larry is so willing to “put ‘skin’ in the game,” why would be accept contributions in the first place? For all we know, the public dollars could go to repay his loans – it sort of depends on how one interprets whether that constitutes “real or personal property that will be retained more than 30 days after the election.” I’m not a lawyer.

    Nor is Larry the only candidate of the four who’s had to make a payroll – Ron George also has his own business, albeit it may be more modest.

    I don’t think being wealthy is a negative, but don’t try and sell me on Change Maryland as a “grassroots” effort after all this has come to pass.

  4. Bob, where does this money come from? The government. How is it collected? The tax system. Who does decides where the money goes? The government.

    Hogan spent $500,000 to raise $250,000. That’s “raising” more money than anyone else, but it’s net negative value. And that’s *with* the vast majority of Hogan events being fundraisers, not outreach.

    When I say “to raise $250,000” I don’t mean he’s balance was $750,000. I mean he ended with $250,000. I mean he spent *more* than he took in.

    But grassroots fundraising was never the goal here – Hogan spent what it took to get government funding.

    Michael, there’s a prohibition on “expenses incurred 30 days after the election” and the unspent money does have to be given back, but if Hogan is nothing more than a vanity candidate, than it would make sense for him to pay off the loans with government funds before then. I guess we’ll see.

    Calling it now, if Hogan wins the primary, the excuse after the general will be “the party didn’t support us.”

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