FEC Reports: 6 Million-Dollar War Chests, Plus Trone

U.S. House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer at a Maryland Democratic Party luncheon in Annapolis earlier this year. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines

Six of Maryland’s seven incumbents in the House of Representatives are sitting on campaign war chests of $1 million or more for their re-elections this year.

The one is exception is U.S. Rep. David J. Trone (D), a multimillionaire who has substantially self-funded his campaigns.

The fundraising numbers were in year-end campaign finance reports, which the candidates were legally required to submit to the Federal Election Commission at midnight on Friday.

There is one vacancy in the congressional delegation: the 7th District seat previously held by the late Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D), who died in October. Special primaries to begin choosing his replacement will be held on Tuesday.

All seven of the state’s congressional incumbents are substantial favorites for re-election, and are well-armed financially for the battles ahead:

— In the 1st District, five-term Rep. Andrew P. Harris (R) reported $1,021,313 in his campaign account as of Dec. 31, after raising $219,141 in the last three months of 2019 and spending $81,141.

— In the 2nd District, nine-term U.S. Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger had $1,044,871 on hand. He raised $118,110 from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31, and spent $107,515. A potential Republican challenger, Baltimore County state Sen. Johnny Ray Salling, had banked just $3,199 at the end of the year. Another state lawmaker, Del. Richard K. Impallaria, entered the Republican race in January.

— In the 3rd District, seven-term Rep. John P. Sarbanes raised $139,817 in the final quarter of 2019 and spent $121,390. He had $1,122,358 on hand.

— In the 4th District, second-term Rep. Anthony G. Brown (D) had $1,046,082 in the bank after raising $145,607 and spending $51,374. Brown is being challenged in the Democratic primary by a fellow Iraq War veteran, Shelia Bryant, who raised $25,532 in the last three months of the year and reported $34,952 on hand. Bryant loaned her campaign $20,000 earlier in 2019.

— In the 5th District, Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D) is in a class of his own on the fundraising front, by virtue of being House majority leader. He raised $617,262 in the last quarter of 2019, spent $317,199 — a good chunk of it went to prop up his Democratic colleagues — and finished 2019 with $1,475,537. Hoyer faces two progressive challengers who are trying to wage grass-roots campaigns to defeat him in the Democratic primary. McKayla Wilkes, a former project analyst at the Pentagon, reported $93,195 in the bank after raising $43,037 since Oct. 1. Wilkes is now Brown’s principal primary opponent: Attorney and community organizer Briana Urbina dropped out of the race in January.

— In the 6th District, Trone reported raising $453,789 in the final quarter of the year — and $325,000 came from his own pocket. Overall, Trone has seeded his campaign with $925,000 this election cycle. He spent $354,402 in the last quarter, and had $139,918 on hand. Trone’s likely Republican challenger, Washington County Del. Neil C. Parrott, had $107,757 in the bank after raising $30,173.

(Disclosure: The David and June Trone Family Foundation is a financial supporter of Maryland Matters.)

In the 8th District, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D), who has had a high profile at home and on Capitol Hill during the impeachment proceedings of President Trump, raised $340,050 in the final three months of 2019, and spent $231,024. He banked $1,058,496.

In the 7th District, Cummings raised $66,478 before his death in October, and his campaign committee still had $988,962 on hand on Dec. 31 after beginning to return certain contributions to donors. The campaign is in the process of distributing the surplus to charities across the state.

The candidates seeking to replace Cummings had to turn their campaign finance statements in a week earlier than the other federal candidates in the 2020 election cycle, and the results showed that the Democratic primary was a sleepy affair on the financial front. At the time, University of Baltimore Law School professor F. Michael Higginbotham led the field, taking in $615,684 through Jan. 15. But that figure was skewed by the $500,000 he put in from his own pocket.

Two state legislators who are running for Cummings’ seat — House Majority Whip Talmadge Branch (D-Baltimore City) and Hassan S. “Jay” Jalisi (D-Baltimore County) — missed the Jan. 23 filing deadline for campaign finance reports.

Both showed intriguing anomalies: while Jalisi raised $117,975 through Jan. 15 — including $75,000 from his own pocket — he had yet to spend a dime on the campaign.

In an era of electronic filing of campaign finance statement, Branch’s campaign filed a hand-written report — and it did not show most donations or expenditures. But it did show contributions from fellow politicians: Dels. Kris Valderrama (D-Prince George’s) and Benjamin Brooks (D-Baltimore County) each donated $1,000 to his congressional campaign; Prince George’s County Councilman Derrick Leon Davis (D) gave $990; House Speaker Pro Tem Sheree Sample-Hughes (D-Middle Shore) donated $850; and Dels. Andrea Harrison (D-Prince George’s) and Stephanie Smith (D-Baltimore City) contributed $250 each. Branch’s legislative campaign kicked in $1,000 to his congressional campaign.

Overall, Branch reported raising $57,515 for the congressional special election and had $43,506 on hand as of Jan. 15.

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