Latest Campaign Finance Reports Tell Stories

A week after Election Day, Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) had almost $700,000 left in his various campaign accounts, according to campaign finance reports released last week.

The latest financial reports, covering the period Oct. 22 to Nov. 13, reveal campaigns’ last-minute spending decisions and offer a glimpse of the surplus – or debts – the candidates will be carrying into the new year.

The latest reports don’t definitively close the books on the 2018 election cycle: Candidates may still owe staffers and vendors money, and they can keep raising money after the election – though it’s generally easier to do so for winners than losers. The next campaign finance reports, covering the end of the year and early January, aren’t due to be submitted to the Maryland State Board of Elections until mid-January.

But Hogan’s cash-on-hand is noteworthy and serves as a reminder of the financial advantage he held over his Democratic challenger, former NAACP president Benjamin T. Jealous. Overall, Hogan raised about $20 million en route to winning a second term.

As of Nov. 13, Hogan reported $688,414 in his campaign account. He raised $268,240 in the final two weeks of the election. The campaign account of Lt. Gov. Boyd K. Rutherford (R) had $5,182 on hand on Nov. 13, and their joint campaign committee had just $26.19 in the bank.

Hogan defeated Jealous by more than 11 points – a resounding victory in a Democratic state in a Democratic year. He became just the second Republican governor in Maryland history to win reelection.

But Hogan’s coattails were essentially nonexistent. The Republicans’ drive to flip five state Senate seats fell well short, as did their aggressive campaign to elect a Baltimore County executive for the first time in almost three decades. And two incumbent Republican county executives were ousted, even as Hogan was racking up significant margins in their counties.

Hogan endorsed these candidates and appeared with them from time to time, and they plastered their literature with his image and imprimatur. But could they have benefited from financial support from the governor – and would that have made a difference in any of their races?

According to campaign finance records, the Hogan campaign during his four years as governor supported just one candidate financially – Matthew McDaniel, a Republican who ran unsuccessfully for a City Council seat in southeast Baltimore in 2016. He received $6,000.

Jealous’ campaign account, meanwhile, reported $317,008 on hand as of Nov. 13. The campaign raised $479,235 in the two-week runup to the election – including $3,000 from Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett (D), who endorsed Jealous in October while lavishly praising Hogan.

The campaign account for Jealous’ running mate, Susan W. Turnbull, reported $68,083 on hand, while the candidates’ joint fundraising committee had $66,585. Jealous had loaned his campaign $58,600 – including an $8,600 loan logged on Election Day. Turnbull had loaned her campaign $50,000.

The five newly-elected Democratic county executives in “Big Eight” jurisdictions had markedly different war chests as of Nov. 13.

Ironically, the highest cash on hand figure was reported by Montgomery County Executive-elect Marc B. Elrich – despite the fact that he participated in the county’s new public financing system, which limited the size of the contributions he could accept but provided matching funds based on the amount of money he raised. Elrich reported $110,934 on hand, and his campaign estimated that it was due an additional $18,943 in matching funds.

Although Elrich was battling a well-funded opponent in his fellow County Council member, Nancy Floreen, who was running as an independent and whose campaign was fueled by real estate interests (and who did not take public financing), he wound up outspending her between Oct. 22 and Nov. 13, shelling out $390,670 compared to Floreen’s $198,112 in expenditures. A pro-Floreen political action committee, County Above Party PAC, spent $220,182 during the same period.

Anne Arundel County’s incoming executive, Steuart Pittman, reported a campaign deficit of $3,762. Baltimore County Executive-elect John A. “Johnny O” Olszewski Jr. and Howard County Executive-elect Calvin Ball had roughly the same amount left in their campaign coffers — $24,930 and $23,444, respectively.

Prince George’s County Executive-elect Angela D. Alsobrooks reported $108,383 in her campaign account. On Oct. 23, she cut two $3,000 checks – to Olszewski and Ball.

New county executives, by and large, should find it easy to replenish their campaign coffers.

Bruce DePuyt contributed to this report. 

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Josh Kurtz
Co-founder and Editor Josh Kurtz is the leading chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He later became an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, and spent eight years at E&E News, an online subscription-only publisher of news websites covering energy and environmental issues. For seven of those years, he led a staff of 20 reporters at E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill and in national politics. For 6 1/2 years he wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz has given speeches and appeared on TV and radio shows about Maryland politics through the years.

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