Md. Donors Fuel Biden’s Fundraising Boom

Former vice president Joe Biden with Benjamin T. Jealous, the Democratic nominee for governor, at a Democratic reception in Baltimore in 2018. File photo

Maryland Democrats — including state politicians and former Obama White House aides — are shelling out cash in hopes of propelling Joe Biden into the White House this year.

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee raked in more from Maryland donors in the first three months of this year than he did in the last three quarters of 2019 combined, according to the most recent fundraising reports.

Biden emerged from the crowded field as the frontrunner after his victory in South Carolina’s late February primary and his major gains on Super Tuesday in early March. Many of the other contenders quickly rallied around the former Democratic vice president, and Bernie Sanders’ withdrawal from the race in early April cemented Biden’s status as the presumptive nominee.

As his campaign gained steam, Democratic donors in Maryland and elsewhere around the country coalesced to help bolster Biden’s war chest ahead of his looming November battle against President Trump.

Biden raised $1.6 million from Maryland donors between Jan. 1 and March 31 of this year, according to the most recent report filed with the Federal Election Commission. That’s more than he raised from the state in all of 2019. Between his campaign launch in late April 2019 and the end of last year, Biden reported raising $1.2 million from Maryland donors.

Those totals include itemized contributions from donors giving more than $200 and can also include smaller donations.

Biden, who hails from neighboring Delaware, was the early favorite among Maryland’s Democratic donors. But his emergence as the presumptive nominee means that donors who had backed other Democrats could pivot to cut checks to him as the race for the White House heats up.

Biden has outraised Trump in Maryland, even as Trump has outraised him nationally. The president’s reelection campaign reported raising $1.5 million from Maryland donors so far this cycle, compared to Biden’s overall $2.8 million haul.

Trump — who got a head start in the cash race as the incumbent — has raised a total of $257 million nationally for the full cycle. Biden has raised $135 million for his 2020 bid, but that gap is expected to tighten now that the Democratic field has narrowed. Party committees and outside spenders will also play huge roles in 2020 campaign financing. Biden’s team on Friday joined forces with the Democratic National Committee to expand their fundraising efforts.

In the last presidential election cycle in 2016, Maryland ranked No. 11 among states that donated the most to federal races, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Donors from the state contributed more than $124 million to federal campaigns, with 77% going to Democratic candidates and 21% going to Republicans. And Maryland is the richest state in the nation, according to U.S. Census Bureau data that estimated Maryland’s median household income at $83,242.

Although both sides will vie for cash in Maryland, the November presidential election isn’t expected to be electorally competitive in the state — Hillary Clinton won 60% of the vote in 2016, compared to Trump’s 34%.

Ex-Obama aides shell out

Maryland politicos and former Obama administration officials are among Biden’s highest-profile donors from the state.

President Obama’s former chief of staff, Denis McDonough of Takoma Park, donated $1,000 on March 1, records show. Former Obama deputy chief of staff Nancy-Ann DeParle of Chevy Chase donated $5,600 on March 18.

Anita Dunn of Chevy Chase, who was an Obama White House communications aide and is now a senior Biden campaign adviser, has donated $2,928 to the campaign.

U.S. Rep. David J. Trone (D) cut Biden’s campaign a $2,800 check last September. State Sen. Ronald N. Young (D-Frederick) has donated $340; former state Sen. Gloria Lawlah (D-Prince George’s) contributed $1,000 last September.

Former Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend of Shady Side donated $500 in January. Another member of the Kennedy family — Special Olympics Chairman Timothy Shriver of Chevy Chase — held a fundraiser for Biden last summer, Politico reported. Shriver has donated $1,500 to the campaign.

Trump’s Maryland donors include Ron Gula, a former National Security Agency hacker who went on to found the Ellicott City-based cyber investment firm Gula Tech Adventures with his wife, Cyndi Gula. The couple has donated a combined $8,400 for Trump’s reelection bid.

Jeffrey Legum, a philanthropist and former president of Park Circle Motor Co., donated the maximum allowed amount to Trump’s campaign early last year — $2,800 for the primary and another $2,800 to use in the general election.

Legum, who also donated last year to the campaigns of the late Maryland Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D) and Rep. Andrew P. Harris (R) told The Baltimore Sun of his Trump contribution, “I try to vote pro-business people. I just don’t like to have my taxes raised, so I guess in that instance I vote my pocketbook.”

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