Just days before the January 2022 campaign finance reporting deadline, Bowie Mayor Tim Adams, a wealthy businessman and one of two candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for comptroller, dumped more than $1.8 million of his own money into his campaign coffers. It put him slightly ahead of his opponent, Del. Brooke E. Lierman (D-Baltimore City), a dogged fundraiser, in cash on hand.
Six months later, Adams hasn’t added a dime of his own money to his campaign account, while Lierman has continued to raise money steadily, except when she was banned from doing so during the three-month General Assembly session. Five weeks before the July 19 primary, she now has the fatter war chest.
Given Adams’ personal fortune, Lierman’s financial advantage could be ephemeral. It all depends on whether Adams is willing to invest more of his money in what appears to be an uphill race.
But Lierman’s take between April 12, the day after the legislative session ended, and June 7, was impressive: She raised $400,590 and ended the reporting period with $1,510,097 on hand. Adams, by contrast, reported $965,812 in the bank.
“Women are used to extra barriers in their way and this election is no different,” said Candace Dodson-Reed, Lierman’s campaign treasurer. “Brooke is an effective leader and knows how to solve problems. When barriers arise, she breaks through them and these fundraising numbers show how formidable of a candidate she is.”
Lierman raised $331,347 from individuals, showing 138 pages of individual contributions in her campaign finance report, from AB Associates to Catalina Zorc. She pulled in $29,000 from federal political action committees, including $6,000 each from three powerful unions (AFSCME, UNITE Here, and the pipefitters), plus $6,000 from U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.).
Lierman raised $18,100 from Maryland campaign committees, including $6,000 each from Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City), who represents the same legislative district as Lierman, and from Del. Marc Korman (D-Montgomery), a leader with Lierman in Annapolis on transit issues.
Lierman reported spending $662,489 since mid-January, including $321,445 to Screen Strategies Media, a Democratic media firm in Fairfax, Va., for TV ads, and $172,051 on staff salaries and related expenses.
Notably, Lierman also reported refunding $1,142 in prior campaign donations from Barbara Goldman Goldberg, a long-time Democratic activist and donor who attracted unwanted attention last December for suggesting in an email that a Black nominee for governor may not be able to win.
Adams spent even more than Lierman did since mid-January: $909,647, according to his latest finance report. But he only reported $20,911 in money taken in during that period — and of that figure, only $9,592 were from true contributions. The rest came from refunds paid to the campaign, including $6,669 from Devine Mulvey Longabaugh, a top national Democratic media firm that handled some of Adams’ ads at the time he announced his candidacy.
What was different between Adams’ January campaign finance report and the one he filed Tuesday was that he has made no loans to his campaign since January. He is still carrying $2,745,000 in debt from loans he made to his comptroller campaign and to a prior unsuccessful campaign for state Senate.
Adams has largely waged his campaign on Black-oriented radio stations, and he reported paying $507,187 since January to Mosaic Communications, an Arlington, Va. firm, for his radio spots. He has paid out $93,705 in staff salaries and related expenses during that time.
A poll conducted for the Baltimore Sun and the University of Baltimore in late May and early June showed Lierman leading Adams among likely Democratic primary voters, 28% to 19%. But 52% of those surveyed said they were undecided.
Meanwhile, the only Republican candidate for comptroller, term-limited Harford County Executive Barry Glassman, reported $477,371 on hand as of June 7 after raising $112,574 since mid-January and spending $101,227 during that period. Almost all the money Glassman raised came from individual donations and ticket sales to fundraising events.
Glassman has run a lean operation so far, and does not appear to be paying any campaign staff salaries. His biggest reported expense was payments totaling $46,700 to Strategic Partners and Media, an Annapolis-based GOP consulting firm.
Glassman also reported making campaign contributions to other politicians totaling $1,225: $1,000 to Harford County Sen. Jason Gallion, $100 to Harford Sheriff Jeff Gahler, and $125 to Sen. Kathy Klausmeier, a Baltimore County Democrat.
Glassman’s campaign also reported $49,286 in “outstanding obligations” — a bank loan to purchase a campaign vehicle.