Gov. Larry Hogan (R) enters the election year with more cash on hand than all seven of his Democratic challengers collectively.
Campaign finance statements covering the period from mid-January 2017 through mid-January of this year showed Hogan and his lieutenant governor, Boyd K. Rutherford, with a robust $9,038,113 in their campaign accounts combined. Hogan’s alone had more than $8 million.
The seven Democrats – Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, former NAACP president Ben Jealous, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, state Sen. Richard S. Madaleno, tech entrepreneur Alec Ross, Baltimore attorney Jim Shea and former Obama administration official Krishanti Vignarajah – together had upwards of $5.7 million in the bank, according to their campaign reports, which were filed late Wednesday and early Thursday.
On the Democratic side, Kamenetz had the most cash on hand – just shy of $2,002,000.
“I’m proud of the support our campaign is receiving,” Kamenetz said in a statement Wednesday night. “It’s increasingly clear that Maryland is ready to reject a do-nothing governor who’s enabled Donald Trump’s destructive, say-anything agenda.”
The Democratic candidates were interested in spotlighting the amount of money they raised in the past year – and five collected $1 million or more, led by Shea, who took in $2,018,000 in cash receipts and an additional $54,000 in in-kind contributions. Shea’s take was buttressed by $534,000 from his own pocket, including in-kind donations.
“I’m traveling around the state asking my friends and supporters to stretch for me, so I am going to stretch, too,” Shea said.
In fact, two other Democrats contributed substantially to their own efforts: Madaleno loaned his campaign $120,000, and his husband, Mark Hodge, chipped in another $4,000. And Vignarajah loaned her campaign $100,000.
But the big story was the disparity in cash between the Democrats and the Hogan/Rutherford campaign – and the Democrats’ so-called burn rate, the amount of money they’ve spent in the early stages of their primary.
Even though Hogan and Rutherford are prevented from raising money during the three-month General Assembly session while these Democrats aren’t – Madaleno, the only state officeholder, received dispensation from the ban on lawmakers raising money during session, because he has entered the state’s public financing program for gubernatorial contenders – the cash gap between Hogan and the Democrats is likely to widen, as the Democrats drain their treasuries before the June 26 primary. The winner is almost certain to emerge from the primary broke, while Hogan husbands his resources for the 4 ½-month sprint to Election Day.
Here are the activity summaries for the campaigns for the past year:
Hogan/Rutherford: Raised $5,436,448 Spent $1,480,887 Cash $9,038,113
Baker: Raised $1,053,796 Spent $608,000 Cash $696,000
Jealous and running mate Susan Turnbull combined: Raised $1,506,852 Spent $863,804 Cash $643,246
Kamenetz: Raised $1,066,700 Spent $684,000 Cash $2,002,000
Madaleno: Raised $440,000 Spent $319,000 Cash $194,000
Ross: Raised $1,057,246 Spent $612,000 Cash $445,000
Shea: Raised $2,018,233 Spent $669,824 Cash $1,348,408
Vignarajah: Raised $431,172 Spent $25,976 Cash $405,105
Because Madaleno is the only candidate participating in the public finance system, his campaign maintains that his take will be in the neighborhood of $975,000 when contributions are combined with matching funds.
After digesting the numbers, it is difficult to conclude that the Democratic race has been recast by the fundraising reports. The most recent public poll showed Baker leading the Democratic field, with 24 percent, with Kamenetz and Jealous each at 14 percent, and the rest of the candidates mired in single digits. One-third of Democratic voters were still undecided.
Kamenetz was expected to have the most money in the bank, and he does. Baker is gradually building support from fellow political leaders and decent base in the Washington, D.C., region and among African-American voters. Jealous has a potentially potent combination of unions, progressive activists and black voters. Shea’s cash on hand gives him some ability to spend to build his name recognition.
The sources of the Democratic candidates’ funding were largely predictable – with one exception. Ross’ campaign finance report was chock-full of prominent names in the tech world, media and venture capital – a typical for a Maryland candidate. His donors included James Murdoch, the CEO of 21st Century Fox, Jeffrey Katzenberg, the film studio executive, and Craig Newmark, the founder of Craig’s List. This suggests that Ross’ campaign treasury can grow substantially – if he can convince his famous friends to continue to contribute.