A few weeks ago I promised to start once again looking into where our candidates get their money.
The first race I wanted to delve into on the financial end was the District 38 Senate race between incumbent Democrat Jim Mathias and challenger Republican Delegate Mike McDermott. As you’ll see in the link, Mathias has the clear financial advantage.
This file is something I composed as a composite which includes all four financial reports due since the beginning of 2014 – the 2013 annual, the two pre-primary reports, and now the first pre-general report.
So we can see that, in this race, incumbent Democrat Jim Mathias has raised a lot of money compared to his opponent, who is also an incumbent in the House of Delegates. Mike McDermott was more or less forced to run for a different office thanks to being squeezed into a single-member district with fellow Delegate Charles Otto by Democratic gerrymandering.
Where did the money come from? More than most others whose financial forms I’ve studied, Mathias gets a lot of donations from ticket sales, presumably to his relatively frequent fundraisers both in the Ocean City area and occasionally across the bridge. Almost 2/3 of his income came that way, with most of the rest being PAC contributions. Having looked as well at the records of his fellow Democrat incumbent Delegate Norm Conway, it’s apparent that PACs are very happy to give plenty of money to Democratic incumbents, but not so much to Republicans because Mike McDermott has negligible PAC money compared to Jim Mathias.
Moreover, there are a lot of big-money donors from Ocean City (and beyond) who have opened up their wallets for Jim Mathias, while only a handful are supporting McDermott. Given the huge disparity in money allotted to fundraising – for every dollar McDermott has spent on fundraising, Mathias has forked over $17.30 – it’s small wonder there’s a big gap in cash on hand.
It’s also worth mentioning that nearly half of Mathias’s total spending has gone to one entity – Rice Consulting of Bel Air, a frequent client of Maryland Democrats. Whether directly or as a pass-thru to other entities, Mathias gave $37,320.16 to Rice Consulting out of $78,388.97 spent.
McDermott has used a pair of outside consultants: Campaign On out of Owings Mills for $3,087 and Scott and Associates of Annapolis for $5,000. That represents about 40% of McDermott’s spending, but it’s going to media rather than fundraising and “strategic incumbency protection,” which are Rice Consulting’s specialties. Personally, I’d prefer strategic taxpayer and citizen protections.
It’s also worth pointing out that several current and former Annapolis and Baltimore Democratic elected officials have chipped in for Mathias from their campaign accounts:
- retired Delegate Ann Marie Doory: $100
- District 6 Delegate and State Senate candidate John Olszewski, Jr.: $150
- District 11 Delegate Dan Morhaim: $250
- retiring Baltimore County Councilman John Olszewski, Sr.: $450
- retiring Delegate Brian McHale: $1,000
- District 40 State Senator Catherine Pugh: $1,000
- retiring Delegate James Hubbard: $2,000
- retired Senator (and onetime Congressional candidate) Rob Garagiola: $2,250
- District 13 Delegate and State Senate candidate Guy Guzzone: $6,000
The only elected official contributing to McDermott’s side thus far is Wicomico County Republican Central Committee-elect member Greg Belcher, who donated $154.18 in closing his election account.
So it’s very obvious that Maryland Democrats and their patrons are throwing the kitchen sink into keeping this seat. Mathias has a war chest which will likely land him some television time and allow him to once again carpetbomb the district with full-color mailings which obfuscate his real record.
But it’s also a fact that Mathias only won one of the three counties in the 38th District last time, winning in Worcester County by just enough to overcome his deficits in Somerset and Wicomico counties. He outspent Republican opponent Michael James $300,835.32 to $225,556.44 in the process, so indications are he will be able to spend the same amount (or more) this time.
Next up will be a look at the Senate race in District 37. My plan is to do each local district on a Tuesday or Wednesday, so look for the other Senate race after Labor Day.