By Josh Kurtz
Gov. Larry Hogan (R) will report raising $4.85 million during the past year, according to a fundraising memo obtained Tuesday by Maryland Matters.
Added to the $584,000 that Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford (R) raised independently since January 2017, the Hogan-Rutherford campaign took in more than $5.4 million in the past 12 months. It had more than $9 million in the bank as of last week.
“With public polling putting your approval at 71 percent, and with a $9 million bank account, we could not ask to be in a stronger position entering 2018,” Tom Kelso, the campaign chairman, wrote in the memo to Hogan and Rutherford.
State campaign committees are due to deliver their annual campaign finance reports to the Maryland State Board of Elections by midnight Wednesday.
“Our donor base is comprised almost exclusively of Marylanders,” Kelso wrote. “Of our nearly 17,000 unique donors, 93 percent are Maryland residents. This demonstrates the enormous support you have across the state and across the political spectrum. We are particularly proud that two-thirds of your donors are small donors who contributed $250 or less.”
And for a governor who sees himself as the antithesis of his predecessor, former Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), Kelso said that the Hogan-Rutherford take far outpaced the fundraising haul for O’Malley and then-Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown (D) for the equivalent period in the 2010 cycle, when they won re-election – “an amazing 62 percent increase over Gov. O’Malley and Lt. Governor Brown’s combined balance at this stage in 2010,” the chairman wrote.
Hogan’s take for 2017 is roughly in line with what former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) raised in 2005, the year before he was defeated for re-election by O’Malley. Ehrlich that year raised more than $4.8 million and reported $8.1 million on hand.
Because Ehrlich’s lieutenant governor, Michael Steele, was campaigning for U.S. Senate at the time, Steele did not raise much state money in 2005 and did not contribute significantly to Ehrlich’s reelection take. Ehrlich did not select a new running mate until later in 2006, after the January campaign finance reporting period.
Hogan’s fundraising was expected to be substantial this year and his cash-on-hand could well eclipse the collective bank accounts of all seven Democrats seeking to replace him.
As of Tuesday night, only three Democrats had reported their top-line fundraising numbers.
The biggest revelation on the Democratic side was Baltimore attorney Jim Shea, who announced he had raised about $2.08 million since joining the race last spring. Shea said he would report $1.34 million on hand.
“Thanks to this support, our campaign will compete in all 24 jurisdictions, and I am very confident that we will have the resources to ensure voters across the state hear my message of investing in Maryland and its people,” Shea said in a statement.
Despite the fundraising showing, Shea has remained mired in the low single digits in all public polls. Political professionals will be scouring his campaign finance report to see how he has spent $700,000 so far – and whether any of the money he raised has come from his own pocket.
Two other Democrats, tech entrepreneur Alec Ross and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, said they raised just over $1 million in the past year, though neither provided cash-on-hand figures.
In the memo to Hogan and Rutherford, Kelso noted that Baker’s fundraising take is “a small fraction given to your campaign.”
“Baker faces a hotly contested primary, and whomever emerges will have had to drain their bank account, and will likely begin the general election battered, bruised and broke,” he wrote. “Meanwhile, our financial position allows us to begin making key early investments in staff and infrastructure that will pay off down the stretch.”