State Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot (D), the sole declared candidate for governor in 2022, had $2.2 million in his campaign treasury as of a week ago ― a solid financial foundation at this stage of the election cycle for what is likely to be a crowded Democratic primary.
Franchot raised $790,431 in the past year, according to his annual campaign finance report. All candidates for state and local offices were required to submit their latest campaign finance statements to the State Board of Elections on Wednesday.
In an email to supporters Wednesday, Franchot expressed satisfaction with the size of his war chest ― especially given the challenges of raising campaign cash during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It means we’ll have the resources we need to share our message — the message you supported — with your neighbors across the state,” he wrote. “We can invest in staff to help organize on the ground in every community, and we can get the word out on TV, radio, and online.”
Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) is banned by law from seeking a third term in 2022, and wide open races to replace him are expected on both the Democratic and Republican sides.
Democrats, confounded by Hogan’s popularity, are hoping state voters return to form and install a Democrat in Government House next year. Republicans, with three wins in the last five gubernatorial elections after being shut out for the previous 34 years, are hoping a big year for the GOP nationally will help them keep their streak alive.
Despite Franchot’s big take, he did not raise as much money in the past year as two other potential Democratic candidates for governor, Prince George’s County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks and Baltimore County Executive John A. “Johnny O” Olszewski Jr.
Alsobrooks reported raising $827,447 between Jan. 9, 2020 and Jan. 13 of this year, while Olszewski collected $805,750. Olszewski finished the reporting period with $1,615,822 in the bank, while Alsobrooks had $1,022,717 on hand.
As county executives who are halfway through their first terms, Olszewski and Alsobrooks can easily vacuum up money from developers and other local business interests seeking favors from their administrations. Alsobrooks, who did the lion’s share of her fundraising in the last quarter of the year, was also the beneficiary of a new state law lifting restrictions on contributions by developers and other real estate interests to the Prince George’s County executive.
The ban on contributions to county executives from developers with project proposals pending before the county government had been in effect since 2012 and was enacted in the wake of the bribery scandal surrounding former Prince George’s County executive Jack Johnson (D). Johnson’s successor, Rushern L. Baker III (D), embraced the reform as a way to show the county had moved on from its pay-to-play reputation.
Prince George’s lawmakers sought to do away with the law because they argued the limits on developer contributions unfairly hamstrung their county executives who might harbor statewide ambitions.
Neither Alsobrooks nor Olszewski has indicated whether they plan to seek reelection or run for governor in 2022.
Two other potential Democratic candidates for governor also filed their annual campaign finance reports this week ― Howard County Executive Calvin Ball and former state attorney general Douglas F. Gansler.
Ball reported raising $383,443 in the past year and had $691,966 in the bank as of Jan. 13.
Gansler, who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2014 and only began raising money in the fall after a six-year hiatus, showed $428,241 on hand after raising $224,300.
Several other potential contenders for the Democratic gubernatorial nominations did not have to file campaign finance reports this week ― either because they are out of office or serve in Congress, where there are different rules and oversight for fundraising. The list of additional prospective candidates includes U.S. Rep. Anthony G. Brown, former U.S. Rep. John K. Delaney, former U.S. Education Secretary John B. King Jr., outgoing Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez, U.S. Rep. David J. Trone, and former Howard County executive Ken Ulman.
The political money chase among potential Republican candidates for governor proceeded at a much slower pace over the past year than it did on the Democratic side.
Harford County Executive Barry Glassman was the most aggressive on the fundraising front, collecting $148,922 and finishing the reporting period with $441,476 on hand. Glassman, who is term limited, is said to be eyeing his options in 2022, which include running for governor, comptroller or Congress.
Lt. Gov. Boyd K. Rutherford, who has been managing day-to-day operations of state government since mid-March so Hogan could address the COVID-19 crisis, did not raise a dime in the past year, according to his campaign finance statement. He reported $23,048 in the bank.
State Commerce Secretary Kelly M. Schulz, a former lawmaker, is seen as a potential Republican candidate for governor. But she shut down her campaign committee in 2018. Former Republican National Committee chairman Michael S. Steele is also seen as a possible candidate, but he has no campaign committee.
It is widely believed that someone from the Trump wing of the GOP could run for governor in 2022, but no one has emerged publicly yet.