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Government & Politics

Lies, Damned Lies and (Gubernatorial Fundraising) Statistics

Strategists for Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) had a field day Tuesday with the news that his Democratic challenger, Benjamin T. Jealous, had just 1/24 the amount of campaign cash that the governor does. But the Democrats hope to have a field day of their own.

It’s field, rather than money, that Democrats hope will carry the day in November – a robust voter turnout operation.

Jealous’ campaign released a summary of his latest finance report Tuesday, a day after Hogan’s team released theirs. The difference in cash on hand was stark, to say the least. Jealous raised about $1.1 million between June 11 and Aug. 21, compared to the more than $2.5 million that Hogan took in.

He finished the reporting period with just $386,000 in his campaign account – compared to $9.4 million for the governor. The imbalance has innumerable political implications, and the Hogan campaign was only too happy to gloat a little. “This fundraising report is just the latest indignity to face the Jealous campaign, but today stands out for the darkness of the storm clouds that have gathered over them,” said Jim Barnett, Hogan’s campaign manager.  

Travis Tazelaar

But Barnett’s opposite number, Jealous manager Travis Tazelaar, attempted to put a positive spin on the numbers.

“Our fundraising totals show we’re on pace to have the resources we need to win on Election Day, and Larry Hogan’s barrage of negative campaigning isn’t slowing our growth,” he said.

Democrats insist they are putting together a strong field operation, which they say will generate a big Democratic turnout in what is expected to be a very favorable environment for Democrats nationally.

Tazelaar said Jealous expects to be at a financial disadvantage throughout the fall campaign.

“Remember, we do not need to match Hogan dollar for dollar,” he wrote in a strategy memo. “We just need enough to drive turnout and get our own positive message out to voters. We are in a position to get that done.”

The Maryland Democratic Party tried to reinforce the message, noting that it has more than 30 paid organizers on the ground — twice as many as the total organizers hired by the party’s 2014 coordinated campaign — and plans to hire at least 30 additional organizers after Labor Day. 

The Maryland Democratic Party said it had more than $1.6 million on hand as of Aug. 21. The party said that at this point in 2014, it had $1.1 million on hand, $1.3 million at this stage in 2010 and less than $900,000 in 2006.

“While Larry Hogan and Maryland Republicans struggle to communicate a vision for the future, Democrats have the resources, the organization, and the message we need to drive record turnout in the November,” said Maryland Democratic Party Chairwoman Kathleen Matthews.

But while Hogan has spent more than $1 million on positive TV ads and the Republican Governors Association has spent $1.2 million, primarily on ads attacking Jealous, the Democratic nominee has been off the air since the June 26 primary and supportive outside groups have yet to run anything besides a couple of brief videos from the pro-Jealous political action committee, Together We Rise.

As to whether the Democratic Governors Association will eventually try to come into Maryland to match the RGA’s firepower, consider: According to ratings from the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, Democrats have six gubernatorial seats that are potentially vulnerable to one degree or another, which they must defend, while there are 11 states that represent better pickup opportunities in the fall for Democrats than Maryland.

The Together We Rise PAC on Tuesday reported raising $410,000 since June 11, and finishing the reporting period with $379,305 on hand – just a tick below Jealous’ war chest.

The money the PAC raised came in four neat contributions: $250,000 from Susan Sandler, a San Francisco-based philanthropist and political donor, $100,000 from the Maryland State Education Association Fund for Children and Public Education, $50,000 from Quinn Delaney, another Bay area philanthropist and political donor, and $10,000 from Friends of the Earth.

Sandler, Delaney and the teachers’ union had contributed to the PAC during the Democratic primary as well. Jealous and the Democrats continued to solider on Tuesday, criticizing Hogan’s education record and marking the 55th anniversary of the March on Washington, which featured the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech.

“My generation was told that we were the ‘children of the dream’ because the shining victories of the 1960s would light the pathway towards prosperity for everyone,” Jealous wrote in an email. “But as we came of age, my generation was haunted by the shadows of mass incarceration, income inequality, and violent crime. “It’s clear to me that bending the moral arc of the universe is a challenge that will continue across generations. That’s why I’m running for governor, so every child in Maryland is able to fulfill their promise and thrive.

“I know that if we live and act with purpose as Dr. King did, and organize around our shared desire for true equality, we can create the Maryland that our children deserve.”

On Wednesday, Jealous is scheduled to highlight his plans to expand re-entry programs and reduce recidivism.

Hogan spent Tuesday night helping state Del. Christian J. Miele (R-Baltimore County), who is running for state Senate, raise money.

Republicans can’t help but look at key numbers and like what they’re seeing.

Responding to a Democratic critic, the website Red Maryland on Tuesday tweeted, “Currently your candidate trails by 17 points in the polls and has a 24-1 cash on hand deficit. There’s no Blue Wave coming to Maryland.”

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Lies, Damned Lies and (Gubernatorial Fundraising) Statistics