With or Without Hogan as a Foe, Van Hollen Builds $3 Million War Chest

U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D). Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

With his re-election campaign looming and at least the distant prospect that Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) could take him on in 2022, U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) has accelerated his pace of fundraising, collecting over $1 million in the past three months and more than $2 million so far this year.

Van Hollen’s fundraising haul is one of many relevant nuggets of information contained in the latest campaign finance reports that candidates for Congress filed with the Federal Election Commission last week. The reports cover campaign fundraising and expenditures between April 1 and June 30.

Of Maryland’s 10 members of Congress, Van Hollen was far and away the most prodigious fundraiser during the three-month period, followed by U.S. House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D), who pulled in $563,264, and Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D), who appears to continue to benefit from the heightened publicity he received as the lead House manager in President Trump’s second impeachment. Raskin reported raising $523,826 this quarter.

Most congressional challengers in Maryland have not even begun to approach the fundraising prowess of the incumbents — with the notable exception of former Del. Heather R. Mizeur (D). As Maryland Matters reported last week, Mizeur, who is seeking to challenge Rep. Andrew P. Harris (R) in the 1st District next year, raised more than $357,000 in the second quarter of the year, compared to Harris’ $185,795. The congressman still had considerably more in the bank as of June 30: $1.29 million compared to Mizeur’s $560,533.

In the Senate race, Van Hollen, who won his first term in 2016 after 14 years in the House of Representatives, has now topped $3 million in cash on hand. His take for the first half of the year stands at $2,067,674, compared to the $625,370 he raised all of last year.

Van Hollen’s political war chest does not compare with the massive fundraising haul some of his Democratic Senate colleagues have shown who are running in competitive races next year. Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock (D), for example, reported raising $7.2 million from April 1 to June 30, while Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly (D) raised $6 million. They are top Republican targets next year.

Van Hollen has yet to attract a Republican challenger who has raised any money this cycle. However, some GOP leaders and strategists hold out hope that Hogan, the popular governor who is term limited in 2022 and harbors national political ambitions, will decide to take on Van Hollen next year.

In a recent interview with Washingtonian magazine, Hogan said he was uninterested in serving in the Senate, but predicted he would defeat Van Hollen “handily” if they were ever matched up. Some Republican recruiters are likely to continue working on Hogan to consider the Senate race, just as they are pushing a fellow moderate in the Hogan mold, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R), to challenge Sen. Maggie Hassan (D) next year.

Van Hollen does face a Democratic primary challenge from Greenbelt Mayor Colin Byrd, who is running as a progressive insurgent. Byrd’s campaign finance statement for his Senate campaign was not immediately available; FEC reports for Senate campaigns aren’t always readily available online.

However, Byrd did electronically file a statement for his now-abandoned House campaign. He started the election cycle targeting Hoyer in the 5th District but pivoted to the Senate race earlier this year.

Byrd reported raising $18,441 for his campaign committee between April 1 and June 30, including $1,000 from former Maryland Democratic chairwoman Maya Rockeymoore Cummings. He reported spending the entire $18,441 — including transferring $8,366 to his Senate committee.

Different approaches for House incumbents

Maryland’s Democratic House incumbents have taken different approaches to fundraising this year, with some raising money aggressively while others have hung back.

It’s unclear what the state’s congressional district boundaries will look like next year. Under the current district lines, the incumbents appear safe in their general elections.

Hoyer, as the No. 2 ranking Democrat in the House, is almost always the top fundraiser among Maryland House Democrats. In the second quarter of this year, he took in $563,264 and banked $961,254 after spending $425,632. Almost all the money he spent in the quarter went to other Democratic candidates and causes: $225,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and at least $66,000 to fellow congressional Democrats.

In the 5th District primary, Hoyer is facing a rematch with Mckayla Wilkes, a progressive Democrat who reported $32,924 in the bank after raising $22,842 since April 1.

The delegation’s other big fundraiser was Raskin, whose $523,826 haul was almost identical to the $524,222 he raised in the first three months of the year. Raskin currently faces no significant opposition in the 8th District.

In the 2nd District, Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D), who is seeking his 11th term, raised $150,219 and finished the quarter with $1,258,152 in the bank. Ruppersberger just got a potentially significant Democratic primary challenger in progressive activist Brittany Oliver.

In the 3rd District, Rep. John P. Sarbanes (D) raised just $5,477 over the past three months but had $983,847 in the bank. In the 4th District, Rep. Anthony G. Brown (D) raised $287,917 in the second quarter of the year and reported $1,413,880 in the bank. Neither faces significant opposition at present.

In the 6th District, Rep. David J. Trone (D), the wealthy owner of a liquor store chain who has spent millions of dollars of his own money on his congressional races, took in $217,690 in the second quarter of the year — but $200,000 of that was from his own pocket. He finished the reporting period with $49,823 on hand, after spending $203,852.

Del. Neil C. Parrott (R-Washington), the Republican nominee against Trone in 2020, is trying again in 2022. He reported $159,538 in the bank after raising $41,786 in the second quarter.

Former Del. Aruna Miller (D-Montgomery), the runner-up to Trone in the 2018 Democratic primary, began raising money this year for a second congressional run in case Trone decided to run for governor in 2022. Her campaign fundraising slowed down, however, when Trone announced in May that he planned to seek a third term in Congress. Still, Miller reported $274,386 in her campaign war chest after raising $55,411 this quarter. That’s money she can use in a future election or if redistricting presents an unanticipated opportunity for her.

In the 7th District, Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D), who made a successful political comeback in 2020, raised $60,165 and finished the second quarter with $322,151 in the bank.

Kimberly Klacik, the conservative Republican who raised an eye-popping $9 million to run against Mfume last year, has not disclosed her political plans for 2022, but still had $554,858 in her campaign account as of June 30. Klacik spent $79,023 in the latest quarter — most of it refunds to donors who had exceeded the legal limit in campaign contributions to her. She donated $5,000 to Chuck Smith, a conservative who lost a bid to become the Republican nominee for attorney general in Virginia, and $15,000 to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, a Catholic church and school in Essex.

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