District 37 House: the five contenders

September 16, 2014 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2014, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics · Comments Off on District 37 House: the five contenders 

For my final look this round at local races, I decided to do both Districts 37A and 37B in one feel swoop, mainly because the District 37A is already set in Sheree Sample-Hughes. She had a free ride once Delegate Rudy Cane dropped out days after the filing deadline, but it’s also worth seeing how she’s set financially to begin her sure re-election run in 2018. I’ll get to her in due course.

Meanwhile, in District 37B there is one real race. Although the top two would normally be declared the winners, a state law prohibits two members from the same county in this two-person district which spans four counties. So the two contenders from Talbot County, Democrat Keasha Haythe and Republican Johnny Mautz, could finish 1-2 but only the winner would be seated. I’ll begin with that race. (link)

While Johnny Mautz has far outraised his opponent, the cash on hand is surprisingly close because Mautz had to survive a primary while Haythe did not – in fact, she has only filed one actual report (the Pre-Primary 1 report in May) while spending less than $1,000 in the last two reporting periods. She attested to this through Affidavits of Limited Contributions and Expenses, better known in the game as ALCEs. Obviously she’s had some spending since she has a website, but it doesn’t rise to the level of filing the paperwork.

Keasha’s report is fairly vanilla, although it would be interesting to know who pays for her website. As far as the small amount she’s raised, the $1,000 contribution from Rudy Cane’s account provides the most insight. She’s the perfect contrast to Mautz as all her contributions are local.

On the other hand, Mautz’s report reminded me of Mary Beth Carozza’s in District 38C because a huge portion of the seed money for both has come from connections they’ve made in Washington, D.C. But while Carozza’s local share has increased over the last several months, Mautz maintains his tremendous haul from friends in the Capital region. Over 60 percent of his total individual contributions come from outside the district, but not much comes from businesses and none from LLCs.

Mautz has also picked up some non-individual donations: $1,000 from the Republican Leadership Council of Talbot County, and PAC donations from the Maryland Farm Bureau, Licensed Beverage Association PAC, and the Maryland Dental PAC. He’s also received transfers from two federal accounts belonging to current Congressman Doug Collins of Georgia and former member Jim Saxton of New Jersey, as well as $500 from the NCPA Legal-Legislative Fund (which represents community pharmacies) and a cool $4,000 from the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

But the eye-popper is the fact Mautz has gone into six figures for spending – more than any other candidate in either District 37 or 38. Over $63,000 has gone just for printing and nearly $14,000 for media, generally to local businesses. (The folks at Bay Imprint and Poore House have made a lot of money from Johnny this election.) One other interesting expenditure is $9,750 to Public Opinion Strategies for a poll back in April. (Full disclosure: Johnny’s payment to me for his sidebar ad should be on his next report.)

So Mautz is the undisputed spending leader in this race. In contrast, the other Democratic contender, Rod Benjamin, is running the ultimate low-budget campaign because he’s neither raised or spent above $1,000 as a serial ALCE filer.

So that leaves me Christopher Adams, who’s also paid for advertising here. His figures are a little bit hard to follow, since a lot of his contributions and expenditures are tied up as loans. He took out and paid off a $20,000 loan from Value Enterprises, LLC and borrowed from his own personal coffers to replace the $20,000. So in truth he’s raised $11,370, with an 11% portion from LLCs and about 1/4 from out-of-district.

Adams has spent on some interesting items, with the biggest being $19,000 to Scott Strategies. He’s also transferred out some good-sized amounts on other entities and races: $500 apiece to the Caroline and Dorchester County Republican Central Committees (although the latter is mis-identified as the Democratic one), as well as to District 38B hopeful Carl Anderton. As far as media goes, I’m a line item along with an ad in the Salisbury Independent, among other things. But if you threw out the loan repayment, Scott Strategies would be well over half Christopher’s spending.

Finally, let’s look at the unopposed Sample-Hughes.

As you can see, the biggest part of her contributions is the $6,000 she received from the coffers of Rudy Cane. It’s worth noting that Cane’s campaign account was closed out as he distributed over $47,000 to several groups – local candidates Sample-Hughes, Haythe, unsuccessful Salisbury City Council candidate April Jackson, and Wicomico County Councilman-elect Ernest Davis all got something from Cane, as did the House Democratic Committee Slate ($13,242.40.) However, Rudy also gave $20,000 to Shore Up! (a local advocacy group) and distributed $13,000 between three local churches.

Sample-Hughes also received small donations from several local Republicans, such as her fellow Wicomico County Council members John Hall and Matt Holloway, along with Sheriff Mike Lewis. The Maryland Farm Bureau PAC chipped in $500 to her as well. She received very little from businesses, nothing from LLCs, and hardly anything from outside the area.

One thing I noticed is that her fundraising expenses were barely covered by the money raised, but aside from that it’s the sort of a report one might expect from an unopposed candidate. Fortunately, that $6,000 from Cane is about all she’s got so any 2018 contender isn’t far behind in the money race yet.

So that’s how District 37 shapes up. The next report is due October 24, just days before the election.

District 37 Senate: Robinson vs. Eckardt

September 2, 2014 · Posted in All politics is local, Campaign 2014, Delmarva items, Maryland Politics, Politics · Comments Off on District 37 Senate: Robinson vs. Eckardt 

Today I’m going to look at the financial status of a race with one incumbent taking on a underfunded challenger.

It seems like Delegate Addie Eckardt won the more difficult election by ousting incumbent Senator Richard Colburn in the June 24 primary. Her victory left her accounts depleted but at this point she’s still in a far better financial position than her challenger Christopher Robinson, who ran for the same seat in 2010 and lost by a 59-41 margin to Colburn.

Here are the numbers.

The first thing which may grab you is the huge amount of money Eckardt has already spent – since 2013, she’s spent over $73,000 just to get through the bitterly-contested primary, practically wiping out her previous cushion coming into the campaign. In February, before she opted to switch races and challenge Colburn, I pointed out Addie had over $44,000 on hand. (At that point, neither Robinson nor Eckardt were in the running for a Senate seat. Christopher Robinson was a filing-deadline substitution for Cheryl Everman, who officially dropped out of the race February 21 but had ceased campaigning weeks before that.) So while she’s raised a fairly significant amount, Addie has gone through about twice as much.

Robinson has an anomaly of sorts regarding his financial records. Instead of being a constant process through the present day, his initial 2014 report had to go back through the wrapup of his 2010 campaign so much of his campaign funding was actually donated back in 2011. There’s also the “other” $8,000-plus, for which Robinson explains:

This is to offset the expense made to clear the outstanding obligations that were paid via in-kind contributions to the campaign reported in this report.

As I read it, this was to clear up his 2010 debt, and although Robinson kept his campaign finance entity active through 2014, he filed affidavits of limited contributions and expenses until the first pre-primary report this year, signifying he neither raised nor spent a total of $1,000 for his campaign.

Unlike the District 38 Senate race, though, there is little PAC money involved and most of the funding comes from within the district. Robinson’s high out-of-district take is skewed by a pair of large contributions out of the less than $8,000 he’s raised overall. As far as spending goes, most of Robinson’s money is going to media as one would expect in such a rural, spread-out district.

Robinson’s is a far less ambitious media buy than Eckardt’s though. Because she had a contested primary to win, she spent heavily in media: a total of $5,903.70 to several local newspapers and $10,967.78 to various local radio stations. Interestingly enough, most of the remaining media money went to Igoe Associates, a company which rubbed some Republicans the wrong way in 2012 when it assisted independent Senate candidate Rob Sobhani.

Eckardt has some other curious ledger items as well. For example, the transfer from other slates comes from the remaining money from the demise of the Shore Team Slate. which also explains a returned contribution of $266.67 to cover an unpaid bill due from that entity. The transfer out went to the House 2014 Victory Slate, which presumably is set up to assist would-be House members with their campaigns.

One other line item which is sure to cause heartburn in some quarters is the $6,600 she spent with Public Opinion Strategies for a poll. It’s a significant part of the “other” category.

On the other hand, Eckardt seems to do well with fundraising without spending a lot of money on it. Just $1,753.91 in fundraising expenses have netted her over $30,000 in individual contributions, and much of that was spent on her annual fundraiser.

It will be interesting to see how this race develops in a financial sense. Given Addie Eckardt’s name recognition in the district, most of which she’s represented for the last 20 years, she shouldn’t need as much financial support as a new candidate would but the fact she only has a few thousand more dollars to spend than her Democratic opponent is a little surprising.

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