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Election 2022 Government & Politics

Political Notes: It’s Campaign Finance Day, Counter-Programming Oprah, a Morella-Edwards Alliance, and More

Former U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez (D) and his running mate in the 2022 gubernatorial election Shannon Sneed (D) attend a news conference calling for the governor to keep Western Hospital Center in Hagerstown and Deer’s Head Hospital Facility in Salisbury open. Photo by Hannah Gaskill.

With state and local candidates’ latest campaign finance statements due at the Maryland State Board of Elections by midnight Tuesday, campaigns with something to boast about are beginning to put out their numbers ahead of the official filings.

Tom Perez, one of the leading Democratic candidates for governor, said Monday night that he plans to report $1.1 million cash on hand for the final push before the July 19 primary. The campaign said it raised more than $1.5 million between mid-January and last week, and has taken in about $4 million overall.

That’s smaller than the take another top contender, Wes Moore: The Moore campaign said last week that he would report having added $2.5 million to his campaign war chest since mid-January. That would bring the total raised by Moore and his running mate, former Del. Aruna Miller (D-Montgomery), to $7.3 million overall. The campaign said it had $2.1 million on hand.

Despite Moore’s financial advantage, the Perez campaign called its fundraising haul — the combined take of Perez and his running mate, former Baltimore City Councilmember Shannon Sneed (D) — “competitive.”

“We’re continuing to build a strong, diverse, and rapidly growing coalition who share our inclusive vision to deliver jobs, justice, and opportunity to every Marylander,” Perez said in a statement. “I’m so appreciative for the generous support from all those who believe in us, including unprecedented backing from labor and working families, who trust my long career in public service, working to expand opportunity and promote justice, and delivering for Marylanders.”

Labor’s support for Perez was especially evident in recently filed campaign finance reports of a political action committee working to support his candidacy called Maryland Opportunity Inc. The independent expenditure entity reported raising $1,152,000 between mid-March and June 9 — almost all of it from labor unions — and spending just shy of $600,000 on TV ads in the Baltimore media market.

The AFSCME Working Families Fund based in Washington, D.C., has contributed $250,000 to the PAC and AFSCME Council 3 in Baltimore donated $200,000. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers PAC also donated $250,000. A plumbers and pipefitters’ union contributed $250,000, and the Amalgamated Transit Union donated $200,000.

The Perez campaign and Maryland Opportunity Inc. are barred by law from coordinating their activities.

Check back with Maryland Matters for full campaign finance coverage throughout the week.

Oprah’s competition

While political professionals and reporters will be combing through myriad campaign finance reports on Tuesday evening, Moore will be boosting his war chest during a virtual fundraiser with the incomparable Oprah Winfrey.

Television history is littered with programs that tried to compete with Winfrey’s ratings juggernaut of a talk show. But a rival of Moore’s for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination is trying a little counter-programming of his own.

At roughly the same time Moore and Winfrey will be having a conversation about “leadership and the challenges families in Maryland are facing,” in the campaign’s words, former U.S. Education Secretary John King and his running mate, Women’s Law Center of Maryland Executive Director Michelle Siri are hosting a virtual town hall on protecting women’s rights in the post-Roe era. The King campaign said the town hall would focus on what can be done at the state and federal levels to protect and expand abortion access if the U.S. Supreme Court, as expected, strikes down the protections in the 49-year-old Roe v. Wade decision.

Joining King and Siri will be Heather Mizeur, the former state lawmaker who is running for Congress in the 1st District, and Salisbury City Councilmember Michele Gregory, who is seeking a state Senate seat on the Lower Shore. The conversation will be moderated by Lily Bolourian, executive director for Pro-Choice Maryland Action, the abortion rights group that has endorsed King for governor.

On Tuesday the King campaign was also touting a new endorsement: from the progressive advocacy group Our Revolution Maryland. The endorsement is the latest in a recent string for the campaign, which also includes last week’s backing from the Sierra Club.

Riding with Jon and Natalie

Jon Baron, another Democratic candidate for governor, began airing his first full-blown TV commercial on Monday — and it mostly features footage of him and his running mate, Natalie Williams, riding a tandem bicycle.

The ad opens with them trying to ride the bike in front of a green screen. But then Baron, who has used humor in his digital ads, sees that it’s not really working. That’s a metaphor for well-meaning policy prescriptions that aren’t working — a central part of Baron’s argument that he’ll bring proven solutions to the governor’s office. Only after making a few tweaks to the bike are Baron and Williams able to go out on the open road.

Baron’s campaign ad said it has made a high-six figure buy on broadcast, cable, YouTube, Connected TV, OTT and digital platforms in the Baltimore and Washington, D.C., media markets. Baron’s campaign manager, Pablo Roa, suggested more is coming.

“As this week’s campaign finance report will show, we have the cash-on-hand to compete with better-known candidates during this critical homestretch — and we have the message to beat them,” he said. “This initial ad buy will allow us to share that message with hundreds of thousands of voters across the state.”

Rutherford preaches Schulz

This is hardly surprising, but it’s still worth noting: Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford (R) has endorsed former state Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz for governor.

The two served together in high-profile roles in the Hogan administration for seven years, which is why the endorsement isn’t surprising. But with Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) termed out, Rutherford contemplated running to succeed him. Only when he decided against it, in April 2021, did Schulz declare her candidacy.

Rutherford announced his preference for Schulz in front of the congregation at Huber Memorial Church in Baltimore City on Sunday.

“She’s been a valuable member of the Hogan administration, and she has the experience and wisdom to continue the work of changing Maryland for the better,” Rutherford said.

As has become typical with the Schulz campaign, the media were not given a heads-up about Rutherford’s endorsement. A video was provided a day after the fact.

Morella backs another Democrat

Former U.S. Reps. Connie Morella (R-Md.) and Donna Edwards (D-Md.) never served together in Congress. Morella had been out of office for more than five years by the time Edwards arrived on Capitol Hill in 2008.

But now Morella, one of the last of the genuinely moderate Republicans to win office in Maryland, has thrown her support to Edwards as Edwards tries to win her old job back. In statements provided by the Edwards campaign, both former lawmakers called each other trailblazers.

“I have known Donna for over 25 years in our work together to protect women and children from violence,” Morella said. “In recent years, we have joined in our work on women’s health and building women’s leadership. Donna is a person of character, integrity, and perseverance. I’m proud to stand with her in this election. She is a champion for women and families and women’s reproductive health care – she knows for whom she is fighting in Washington.”

Edwards is competing against former Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey and former state Del. Angela Angel in the 4th District Democratic primary.


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Political Notes: It’s Campaign Finance Day, Counter-Programming Oprah, a Morella-Edwards Alliance, and More