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Cardin raises just $29K in late 2022, fueling speculation about his political plans

U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D) speaks at a get-out-the-vote rally in Bowie on the night before the 2022 general election. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) raised less than $30,000 in the final three months of 2022, according to new campaign finance reports released this week.

Cardin raised $29,190 from Oct. 1-Dec. 31, most of it in large donations from national political action committees, and ended 2022 with just over $1 million in the bank. That’s hardly peanuts, but the bottom line, and particularly Cardin’s fundraising activity in the last quarter of the year, will invite speculation that the 79-year-old lawmaker will not seek a fourth term in 2024.

Cardin raised and banked considerably less than Maryland’s other U.S. senator, Chris Van Hollen (D), who just won a second term overwhelmingly in November. Van Hollen reported bringing in $56,746 between Nov. 29 and Dec. 31, and finished 2022 with $2,230,123 in the bank.

Cardin’s Senate seat is one of the top prizes on the Maryland ballot in 2024, and several prominent Democrats will undoubtedly give serious consideration to running in the event that the senator, whose political career began in 1966, winds up retiring. Cardin has said he will decide about a 2024 run in a few months.

The latest round of campaign finance reports, which were filed with the Federal Election Commission earlier this week, offer a few clues about behind the scenes jockeying in Maryland ahead of 2024. The reports cover slightly different fundraising and spending timelines: While Cardin’s statement covers the final three months of 2022, the reports submitted by Van Hollen and Maryland’s House members cover the period Nov. 29-Dec. 31, because they had to file an earlier campaign finance report covering the weeks immediately leading up to and after Election Day. Cardin, who was not “in cycle,” did not.

U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D), who is mentioned as a potential Senate contender if Cardin steps away, raised $76,350 in the final five weeks of 2022, his campaign finance report showed. Raskin was sitting on more than $3.1 million in his campaign account as of Dec. 31.

It’s unclear if Raskin would make a move to run for Senate if Cardin retired. Raskin just became the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Reform Committee and would be in line to become the panel’s chair if Democrats retake control of the House after the 2024 election. Raskin is also battling a second bout with cancer — he’s been wearing a bandana on his head as he undergoes treatment for Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma.

Also of note on the Senate front: U.S. Rep. David Trone (D), who would likely consider a run for Senate if there is a vacancy next year, paid for a poll in December. His campaign finance report shows a $27,611 payment to Hickman Analytics, a leading national Democratic polling firm. While it’s possible the payment was simply for a poll conducted for Trone’s 2022 House race — he defeated then-Del. Neil Parrott (R) by 9.5 points in their second matchup — it’s just as likely that the poll was taken to test Trone’s relative strength for a hypothetical Senate race.

Trone, a multi-millionaire, did no fundraising in the final five weeks of 2022 and showed $203,106 in his campaign account at the end of the year. However, Trone has a unique ability to restock his campaign treasury with his own money as quickly as he needs to.

U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes (D), who is also considered a potential Senate contender in the future, did almost no fundraising at the end of 2022 and continues to let his war chest dwindle. He reported $483,141 on hand as of Dec. 31. At the beginning of the 2022 election cycle he had well over $1 million in the bank.

Another possible Democratic candidate for Senate in 2024 is Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D). Alsobrooks reported $230,902 in her state campaign account as of mid-January, but those funds cannot directly be transferred to a federal account if she decides to make a congressional bid.

Republicans have not won a U.S. Senate seat in Maryland since 1980. The GOP would surely like former Gov. Larry Hogan (R) to run next year, but he has expressed no desire to serve in the Senate and seems set on seeking the Republican presidential nomination. Any money Hogan raises for a White House bid could be transferred to a Senate campaign.

Another potential GOP contender is Michael Steele, the former Republican National Committee chair and ex-lieutenant governor who has become a major critic of many GOP leaders in recent years.

“I haven’t given it much consideration at this point,” said Steele, who ran against Cardin in the 2006 general election, “but would take a look at the race if things opened up.”

Mostly quiet on the fundraising front

Most of Maryland’s other U.S. House members were relatively quiet when it came to fundraising at the end of 2022. Rep. Steny Hoyer (D), who had the prominent position of U.S. House majority leader until control of Congress flipped to Republicans on Jan. 3, showed the most financial activity in his campaign report. Between Nov. 29 and Dec. 31, Hoyer raised $76,491 and spent $83,546, finishing the reporting period with $726,896.

Other fundraising and cash on hand totals for the state’s congressional delegation, covering the the period from Nov. 29 to Dec. 31:

  • Dist. 1, Rep. Andy Harris (R): Raised $3,221, spent $15,279, had $813,156 on hand
  • Dist. 2, Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D): Raised $1,634, spent $62,005, had $909,570 on hand
  • Dist. 4: Rep. Glenn Ivey (D): Raised $27,990, spent $50,112, had $483,141 on hand
  • Dist. 7: Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D): Raised $137, spent $11,488, had $591,428 on hand

Bruce DePuyt contributed to this report.

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Cardin raises just $29K in late 2022, fueling speculation about his political plans