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Are Md.’s Congressional Incumbents Hoarding Cash for Post-Redistricting 2022 Election?

Rep. John P. Sarbanes (D-Md.) conferring with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) before a committee hearing last year, is one of several Maryland congressional incumbents who are sitting on robust campaign war chests. Photo by Robin Bravender

Maryland’s eight congressional incumbents continue to have ridiculously lopsided financial advantages over their challengers, the latest campaign finance reports show.

Five of eight incumbents are sitting on war chests of over $1 million — even though they don’t have to sweat reelection. The only three members who hadn’t banked $1 million through June 30 are Rep. David J. Trone (D), who has an unlimited amount of personal wealth to spend on his races; Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D), who was just elected in a special election and represents a Baltimore-based district with an overwhelming Democratic majority; and Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D), who as House majority leader sends a lot of his money to Democratic candidates and committees and can replenish his bank account quickly, thanks to his longstanding national contacts.

If anything, the fundraising reports suggest that Maryland’s incumbents — all of whom seem like shoo-ins for reelection this fall — may be hoarding their campaign cash for the future.

Some House members may harbor ambitions for higher office — though it is hard to see any of them challenging the state’s incumbent U.S. senators, Chris Van Hollen (D), who is up for a second term in 2022, and Benjamin L. Cardin (D), who is up for reelection in 2024. But unanticipated vacancies do happen from time to time — even in Maryland, where political movement is infrequent.

But just as likely, the incumbents are holding on to their robust campaign treasuries because there is uncertainty over what the state’s congressional districts will look like in 2022, after the next round of redistricting.

With Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) in office, this will be the first time in decades that Democrats haven’t completely dominated the redistricting process in Maryland. Beginning next election cycle, the state’s congressional map could look dramatically different — and some incumbents could find themselves in the uncomfortable position of having to run against one of their colleagues.

As recently as 2002, Maryland’s delegation in the House of Representatives was split 4-4 between Democrats and Republicans. But with a Democratic-led gerrymandering that fall, Democrats picked up two House seats, and they picked up one more following the next round of redistricting in 2012. Democrats now hold a 7-1 advantage in the delegation.

The latest congressional campaign finance reports, which cover fundraising and campaign spending between mid-May and June 30, were due with the Federal Election Commission on Wednesday. They indicate that many incumbents were vigorous fundraisers even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The reports show that three of Maryland’s congressional incumbents — Reps. Andrew P. Harris (R), John P. Sarbanes (D) and Anthony G. Brown (D) — face general election opponents with a campaign account balance of zero.

In the 1st District, Harris, the lone Republican in the state delegation, finished June with $1,013,871 after raising $115,237 during the reporting period. His foe, military veteran and transgender rights activist Mia Mason showed no money raised or spent.

In the 3rd District, Sarbanes — the lead sponsor of a sweeping political reform measure in the House — reported $1,097,062 in the bank after raising $63,412. He faces a rematch with Republican Charles Anthony, who raised and spent zero.

In the 4th District, Brown reported $1,092,486 on hand after raising $157,590 in the six-week reporting period. His Republican challenger, George McDermott, is a frequent candidate with no money raised or spent.

Two Democratic incumbents face Republican challengers who are members of the Maryland General Assembly — but even in those races the fundraising disparities are stark.

In the 2nd District, Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D) had $1,068,506 in the bank as of June 30, while his challenger, state Sen. Johnny Ray Salling (R), who only recently was declared the winner of the GOP primary, had just $1,104 on hand.

In the 6th District, Del. Neil C. Parrott (R-Washington) reported $140,120 in the bank after collecting $39,695 during the six-week fundraising period. Trone, the first-term incumbent, reported $677,608 on hand on June 30 after raising $7,636. But Trone, the wealthy co-owner of a national liquor store chain, has already loaned his campaign just shy of $2 million this election cycle — and spent tens of millions of his own money on congressional races in 2016 (when he lost the 8th District Democratic primary) and 2018, when he was elected in the 6th District.

In the 7th District, Mfume, who won a special election in late April to replace the late Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D), had $119,742 in the bank after raising $43,852. Mfume — who previously served in Congress from 1987 to 1996 — was actually outraised by his Republican challenger, conservative commentator Kimberly Klacik, during that period. She took in $47,638 — almost $30,000 in unitemized small donations — and reported $55,878 in the bank. But no one thinks Mfume is in any kind of jeopardy in November.

In the 8th District, Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D) had $1,065,831 in the bank as of June 30 after raising $135,824. His Republican challenger, aerospace engineer Gregory Coll, reported just $88 on hand.

Hoyer, the House majority leader, raised $314,359 between mid-May and June 30, and finished the reporting period with $643,229.

Hoyer had a tougher than usual Democratic primary challenge from Mckayala Wilkes, a progressive activist — though he wound up winning by 38 points. Still, he had to spend a decent chunk of change in the weeks leading up to the June 2 primary.

At the same time, Hoyer doled out $50,000 to congressional Democratic candidates or incumbents around the country, gave $125,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and $36,500 to the Maryland Democratic Central Committee.

Hoyer’s Republican challenger, web designer Christopher Palombi, reported $2,422 on hand as of June 30.

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


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Are Md.’s Congressional Incumbents Hoarding Cash for Post-Redistricting 2022 Election?