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Election 2024

Olszewski begins raising money for congressional bid as he awaits Ruppersberger’s decision

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. (D) speaks with reporters in the Maryland State House. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

While U.S. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-2nd) ponders his political future, another Democrat prepares.

Ruppersberger has yet to formally announce his plans to seek a 12th term. Meanwhile, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. (D) has hired noted Baltimore fundraiser Sophia Silbergeld and is raising money.

Just in case.

“He would never challenge him or do anything to make the congressman uncomfortable,” Silbergeld said of Olszewski’s fundraising activities and relationship with Ruppersberger.

“This is just a way for Johnny to be as prepared as possible,” said Silbergeld, who was the chief fundraising consultant for the 2022 campaigns of Gov. Wes Moore, Comptroller Brooke Lierman and Attorney General Anthony Brown.

To prepare, Olszewski has been raising money for a possible congressional bid for about a month. Silbergeld declined to say how much has been raised.

“The response has been very positive,” she said.

Olszewski, 40, started his second term as county executive in December. He could remain in the job during a campaign and only have to step down if he won.

Olszewski briefly considered running for U.S. Senate in 2024 after veteran Sen. Ben Cardin (D) announced plans to retire in early May. But he wound up endorsing Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D) instead.

Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D)

Rumors abound about Ruppersberger’s political future.

Ruppersberger, 77, was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2002 after serving two terms as Baltimore County executive. He is currently the third oldest member of the state’s federal delegation behind Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-5th) and Cardin.

Maryland’s primary election is scheduled for May 14.

Jaime Lennon, a spokesperson for Ruppersberger, said the congressman “has not made any decisions regarding 2024.”

Lennon said Ruppersberger was aware of Olszewski’s fundraising.

“They discussed it with the understanding that he has not made any decisions,” she said.

Ruppersberger did raise $150,671 in the first three months of 2023, and he reported $938,284 in his campaign account as of March 31.

Olszewski has not officially filed with the Federal Elections Commission.

Instead, he is raising money through what Silbergeld called “an un-filed exploratory committee.”

The money being raised “can be rolled over when and if Congressman Ruppersberger decides to retire,” said Silbergeld.

Federal election law allows a candidate to explore a potential candidacy without formally filing. The candidate can raise money — subject to the $3,300 individual donation limit — and spend up to $5,000 on related activities.

Olszewski would be required to file if he formally announced his candidacy or exceeded the spending threshold. At that time, all donations and expenditures would have to be reported.

“So far we’ve not had any activities,” said Silbergeld.

And if Ruppersberger decides to run again, Silbergeld said the money raised could be rolled over into the next cycle “with the permission of the donors.”


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Olszewski begins raising money for congressional bid as he awaits Ruppersberger’s decision