Josh Kurtz: Numbers Racket

By Josh Kurtz

The January 2012-January 2013 fundraising numbers of the candidates for governor have been fairly well picked over, so let’s look farther down the ballot to see what’s interesting:

– Many of the most vulnerable Democratic state senators are fairly well fixed on the financial front, with more than $100,000 stashed away in their campaign accounts.

Only southern Maryland Sen. Roy Dyson could stand to up his fundraising game: He reported $31,000 cash-on-hand after raising just $1,675 over the past year. Dyson, of course, is a political master and a beloved figure to certain denizens of St. Mary’s County. And potential Republican challengers like County Commissioners Todd Morgan and Larry Jarboe have not begun fundraising yet (Morgan, who has been caring for his badly injured wife for more than a year following a terrible car crash, had just $1,500 on hand, and Jarboe, who is term limited, hasn’t had any fundraising activity since winning re-election in 2010).

On the other hand, St. Mary’s County is increasingly hostile to Democrats, Dyson has become isolated from Annapolis (and Southern Maryland) powerbrokers like Mike Miller and Mac Middleton, and it might be tough to bet on Dyson once again. Some insiders believe House Minority Leader Tony O’Donnell (R ) — who for now is telling fellow Republicans he’s thinking about taking on Steny Hoyer again, a fool’s errand — could beat Dyson with ease. For the record, O’Donnell had just $2,800 in his state campaign account earlier this month, after raising just shy of $2,000 in the past year. He spent about $170,000 on his congressional campaign.

Baltimore County Sen. Jim Brochin (D) — no favorite of party leaders, either, and endangered thanks to a Democratic redistricting plan — had $158,000 on hand after raising $88,000 in the past year. Brochin, wisely, is already spending time stumping in the northern part of the county, which is largely unfamiliar territory for him. His likeliest Republican challenger, former Baltimore County GOP Chairman Chris Cavey, has not begun fundraising yet. Another possible contender, Del. Wade Kach, who has base problems of his own after voting for gay marriage last year, reported $35,000 on hand after raising $12,000 last year.

Lower Shore Sen. Jim Mathias (D), the former Ocean City mayor, had $105,000 in the bank after raising $85,000 in the last year. That’s way ahead of his likely Republican challenger, Del. Michael McDermott, who reported just $10,000 on hand after raising $10,000.

Two Anne Arundel Democratic senators who Republicans frequently have in their sights, Ed DeGrange and John Astle, reported $213,000 and $130,000 on hand, respectively. Two other potential GOP targets, Baltimore County Sen. Kathy Klausmeier and Frederick County Sen. Ron Young, reported $68,000 and $44,000 in the bank, respectively. With his son running for governor and his wife running for mayor of Frederick, Young has some complications back home, but his district is looking increasingly friendly for Democrats.

– One of the few potential Democratic targets in the state Senate, Harford County Sen. Nancy Jacobs (R), is almost broke after waging an unsuccessful bid for Congress last year. Jacobs, who spent more than $230,000 for the privilege of being drubbed by Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger (D), replenished her state campaign account with just $9,000 last year, finishing with only $6,000 in the bank. Fortunately for Jacobs — who hasn’t ruled out another congressional bid — her strongest potential challenger, Del. Mary-Dulaney James (D), had only $13,000 on hand after taking in $21,000 since January 2012. Former Sen. Art Helton (D), who last served 30 years ago and was defeated by Jacobs in 2010, is thinking about trying again.

– Let’s put the following delegates on retirement watch, based on their fundraising numbers: seven-term Carroll/Frederick County Republican Don Elliott, age 81 (zero raised, $8,000 on hand); five-term Carroll County Republican Nancy Stocksdale, age 78 (zero raised, $4,000 in the bank); two-term Montgomery County Democrat Jim Gilchrist, age 47 (zero raised, $4,000 on hand), five-term Prince George’s County Democrat Barbara Frush, age 67 ($2,000 raised, $9,000 on hand), and six-term Prince George’s Democrat Jim Proctor, age 76 (zero raised, $6,000 in the bank).

– Two veteran Democratic House members — Del. Shirley Nathan-Pulliam, who is 73, and Del. Rudy Cane, who is 78, raised almost no money but still have plenty in the bank. Nathan-Pulliam, who represents Baltimore County, took in just $3, but had $75,000 on hand. She could wind up running for a state Senate seat in 2014. Cane, who represents a single-member district on the Eastern Shore, raised $350 but had $54,000 in his war chest.

– Any ambitious House members hoping for turnover in the leadership ranks will have to hope the voters grant them their wish, because the incumbents don’t seem to be going anywhere voluntarily. Of the three most senior House committee chairmen, Judiciary Chairman Joe Vallario (D), age 75, pulled in $66,000 and had $83,000 on hand, Appropriations Chairman Norm Conway (D), age 71, who will be a top Republican target, raised $42,000 and banked $56,000, and Ways and Means Chairman Sheila Hixson (D), who turns 80 next month, raised $38,000 and ended with $15,000 in the bank.

– Despite his trial and wrist-slap from his Senate colleagues, Prince George’s Sen. Ulysses Currie (D) isn’t going anywhere, either. Though he only raised $450 in the past year, he’s sitting on $101,000 in his campaign account. Del. Melony Griffith (D), by contrast, reported just $32,000 on hand, and Del. Aisha Braveboy (D), who has her sights set on running for attorney general rather than dislodging Currie, had just $9,000 in the bank. We’re assuming the district’s third delegate, Dereck Davis (D), is content to stay in the House with his sinecure as chairman of the Economic Matters Committee (he had $40,000 on hand, just for the record).

– Speaking of Braveboy, that $9,000 sure is a deficit when it comes to the AG’s race. Among the other Democrats, state Sen. Brian Frosh finished with an impressive $391,000 on hand, Del. Jon Cardin was next with $170,000 in the bank, and Del. Bill Frick reported $60,000. A non-candidate from all we can tell, but one who would instantly zoom to the front of the pack if she decided to run, Prince George’s State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks, reported $82,000 cash on hand.

– Unless Frick decides to abandon the AG’s race and run for the seat Frosh is giving up, Del. Susan Lee (D) starts the Senate race with a strong financial head start over other potential candidates. She had a busy 2012, raising $80,000 and banking $188,000. Of course, there are plenty of wealthy people in Bethesda and Chevy Chase…

– Despite all the wealth in Montgomery County, the would-be candidates for county executive in 2014 haven’t built up war chests that are nearly as robust as those for exec candidates in nearby jurisdictions.

In Howard County, for example, the Democrat likeliest to run for executive, Councilwoman Courtney Watson, reported $374,000 on hand after raising $254,000 in the past year. Two other Democrats who are pondering the race, Del. Guy Guzzone and Councilman Calvin Ball, also have fat campaign treasuries — $227,000 and $190,000, respectively. Neither was as aggressive raising money as Watson in the past year: Ball raised $85,000 and Guzzone $190,000. The likely Republican candidate, state Sen. Allan Kittleman, raised $171,000 and banked $184,000.

In Anne Arundel County, Del. Steve Schuh (R), the early frontrunner in the executive’s race — and a rising star in state GOP politics — had $521,000 on hand after taking in $329,000. If there’s another Republican with more cash on hand anywhere in Maryland, we’d like to know who it is. No one else running for Anne Arundel exec comes close. Joanna Conti, the likely Democratic nominee unless someone else steps up, reported $91,000 on hand after raising $61,000.

Even in Harford County, the frontrunner to replace outgoing Executive David Craig (R), state Sen. Barry Glassman (R), had $166,000 in the bank after raising $74,000. And two incumbent execs who are unlikely to face much opposition in 2014 — Kevin Kamenetz (D) in Baltimore and Rushern Baker (D) in Prince George’s had pretty fat bank accounts: $733,000 for the former, $262,000 for the latter.

But in Montgomery, the most aggressive candidate for executive thus far, Councilman Phil Andrews (D), reported just $52,000 on hand after raising $48,000. Councilman George Leventhal (D), who is also openly contemplating the race, raised $66,000 and had $50,000 in the bank. Councilwoman Valerie Ervin (D) raised and banked $12,000. Councilman Marc Elrich (D) is sitting on $36,000 after raising $15,000. Del. Ben Kramer (D) had $24,000 on hand after taking in $23,000.

Ironically, three other councilmembers who do not appear to be gearing up for the 2014 executive’s race had more money in the bank than any of the wanna-be execs: Nancy Floreen had $66,000, Hans Riemer had $63,000, and Craig Rice had $59,000.

Of course, the Montgomery race could also be joined by the incumbent, Ike Leggett, who still had $419,000 in the bank after raising just $4,000 in the past year, and the former executive, Doug Duncan, who was sitting on $243,000 after spending $61,000 on a fancy poll and other things. Since telling the world in late November that he was planning to run in 2014, Duncan has more or less fallen off the face of the earth.

– Comptroller Peter Franchot (D), an afterthought in the campaign finance stories now that he is no longer running for governor, still has a very healthy $1.4 million in the bank after collecting $551,000. That’s half of what the likely Democratic candidates for governor took in, but compared to Del. Brian Feldman (D), who publicly says he’s looking at the race, it’s an overwhelming sum. Feldman reported $63,000 on hand after raising $30,000.

– Baltimore County Del. Dan Morhaim (D) must be running for something. He’s sitting on $226,000 — a tidy sum that could make him very attractive for a gubernatorial contender looking for a running mate who can pull his own weight financially.

– As if Del. Don Dwyer (R) doesn’t have enough troubles following his alcohol-fueled boating accident, his campaign finance report looks pretty grim also: He raised just $700 in the past year and reported a deficit in his treasury of $2,700.

Josh Kurtz is editor of Environment & Energy Daily, a Capitol Hill publication. He can be reached at joshkurtz92@gmail.com.

Recent Center Maryland columns by Josh Kurtz:

Like Moths to a Flame

New Year’s Appeal

Objects in the Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear

Party Like It’s 1986

Sole Practitioner

Franchot to Seek Re-election, Won’t Run for Governor

No Heroes Here