Here’s a Quick Look at Fundraising in County Executive Elections
Some of the most hard-fought elections in Maryland this year will be races for county executive in the state’s largest jurisdictions. Of the seven biggest counties in the state, five have competitive races on tap, in the July 19 primaries and/or the general election, while in the other two, Baltimore County Executive John Olszewski Jr. (D) and Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D) are shoo-ins for second terms.
With the latest fundraising reports out this week, it’s time to take quick stock of the candidates’ war chests and the state of play.
Anne Arundel County
In a purple county, Democratic incumbent Steuart Pittman has a fat target on his back. But while five Republicans duke it out for the right to take him on in the fall, he’s sitting on $554,452, after raising $318,732 between mid-January and June 7.
“Voters and donors continue to respond to our message of excellent schools, safe streets, a healthy environment, and sound fiscal management,” Pittman said in a statement. “While our potential opponents continue fighting over who best represents the party of Trump, our campaign will continue to share our record of accomplishments and vision of inclusive progress.”
The Republican primary is widely seen as a race between County Councilmember Jessica Haire and former state Del. Herb McMillan. Haire had a good stretch of fundraising, pulling in $523,604, including an $11,635 loan, and reporting $600,427 in her campaign war chest. Haire loaned her campaign $500,000 at the beginning of the year.
McMillan wound up filing four campaign finance statements on Tuesday. His most recently amended statement showed him with $185,692 on hand after raising $96,314 in the past half-year.
In another purple county, it’s the opposite of what’s taking place in Anne Arundel. A well-funded Republican, state Sen. Michael Hough, awaits the outcome of a three-way Democratic primary. The winner in November will replace term-limited County Executive Jan Gardner (D).
Through June 7, Hough had $487,488 in the bank after raising $169,827 since mid-January. Although state legislators aren’t allowed to raise money during the three-month General Assembly session, which runs from mid-January to mid-April, some — including Hough — have received waivers through the years to fundraise if they are seeking a different office.
The two leading Democratic candidates are members of the county council, and they have similar fundraising hauls. Councilmember Jessica Fitzwater was sitting on $136,505 after raising $38,102 since mid-January. Councilmember Kai Hagen reported $123,938 on hand after raising $47,988.
A third Democrat, former Frederick County Public Schools official Daryl Boffman had $37,593 in the bank on June 7 after raising $34,297 since January.
Two Republicans are slugging it out in the race to replace term-limited County Executive Barry Glassman (R), who is running for state comptroller this year.
State Sen. Robert Cassilly has the fatter war chest; he reported $218,163 on hand after raising $212,221 since January. Billy Boniface, a top Glassman aide, raised $169,655 during that period and banked $114,447.
Whomever emerges from the Republican primary will be heavily favored over the dramatically underfunded Democrat, Blaine Miller, who reported just $9.88 in his campaign account.
The much anticipated rematch between County Executive Calvin Ball (D) and former County Executive Allan Kittleman (R) appears to be a high-dollar affair — and comparing their campaign accounts is somewhat difficult due to Kittleman’s participation in the county’s new public financing system for candidates.
Through June 7, Ball, a former county councilmember who ousted Kittleman in 2018, had $878,809 in the bank after pulling in $328,217 since mid-January. Kittleman reported $546,362 on hand after taking in $99,580 since January. The Republican reported receiving $499,630 in funding from the campaign finance system since he entered the race last year, and his campaign said it had recently requested an additional $82,760.
Both Kittleman and Ball face nominal opposition in their respective primaries.
Public financing and a major self-funder also skew the picture in the county executive race in the state’s largest jurisdiction.
Most of the action is on the Democratic side, where County Executive Marc Elrich, who mastered the county’s public financing system four years ago, faces three challengers. One of those challengers, wealthy businessman David Blair, finished just 77 votes behind Elrich in the 2018 Democratic primary.
Blair, who largely self-funded his last campaign, is doing much the same this time around. While he did collect $80,028 in contributions since mid-January, most of the $1,935,797 he reported as receipts came from his own pocket — about $1.85 million. Blair has spent more than $2.1 million since then, and finished the reporting period with $164,300 on hand. Overall, Blair is carrying debt of $2,951,000.
Elrich, who is participating in the campaign finance system again, reported $478,308 in his campaign account, and said he has requested an additional $143,184 from the public financing system (so far, he has collected $406,988 in public funds).
A third Democrat, County Councilmember Hans Riemer, reported $361,414 on hand and said he was seeking an additional $358,221 in funds from the public financing system.
“Our fundraising numbers are strong, which obviously is great, but what excites me most is the size of our donor base,” Riemer said. This cycle, the Riemer campaign calculates that he has received contributions from 1,913 donors, compared to 1,361 for Elrich and just 373 for Blair.
“Our donor base reflects the strength of our grass-roots team,” Riemer said.
Meanwhile, the two county executives who are expected to cruise to reelection — Olszewski and Alsobrooks — are both sitting on robust war chests. Olszewski had $2,002,664 on hand, while Alsobrooks reported $894,499.
Disclosure: The Blair Family Foundation was a financial supporter of Maryland Matters in 2020.