By Kristi E. Swartz and Paul T. Rosynsky
WASHINGTON – How much does it cost to win a vote in Maryland?
For Democratic Rep. Steny Hoyer, it cost at least $5.86 for each vote he won Tuesday night in the 5th District. Hoyer, who won re-election to a ninth term, spent more overall on his contest and more on each voter than any other Maryland congressional candidate.
The Mechanicsville resident could have bought a McDonald’s Arch Deluxe Extra Value Meal and a shake for each of the 116,611 voters who cast tallies for him.
Instead, he followed traditional campaign tactics, spending $684,064 on mailings, television and radio advertisements and campaign signs between Jan. 1, 1995, and Oct. 16, his financial report showed.
At least half of his treasure chest was spent on television and radio ads.
“Given the system we have, it’s what was needed to win,” said Cory Alexander, Hoyer’s campaign director. Hoyer had one of the tougher Maryland challenges.
His challenger, state Del. John S. Morgan, R-Laurel, spent $145,915 through Oct. 16 – $1.66 for each vote he won.
Morgan won 43 percent of the 5th District vote, to Hoyer’s 57 percent.
Deborah Povich, executive director for Common Cause Maryland, said Hoyer’s spending was “not way out of line for what we recommended.” The political watchdog group last year recommended each House candidate not exceed $600,000 in campaign spending.
The biggest problem occurs when a challenger cannot match the fund-raising capabilities of the incumbent, Povich said. “Incumbents have a greater resource to campaign contributions.”
All eight Maryland congressmen – four Democrats and four Republicans – won re-election Tuesday.
Common Cause advocates providing free or reduced media time for candidates’ ads, a reduced rate for postage and limits on special-interest contributions to “level out the playing field.”
Campaign finance and voter turnout records showed Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest, an Eastern Shore Republican, spent the least of the Maryland congressmen for each vote he received – $1.55 for every vote.
The 1st District congressman spent $193,335 from Jan. 1, 1995, to Oct. 16. He received 124,787 votes Tuesday night – 61 percent of the total. He beat Democrat Steven Eastaugh, a professor at George Washington University.
“I think it shows that [Gilchrest] works hard on behalf of his constituents,” said Jim Burton, executive director for the Maryland Republican Party. “Wayne ran a grass-roots campaign.”
Gilchrest spent a majority of his money for radio and television advertisements.
“Wayne’s example makes it a point: You really don’t need that much money,” said Tony Caligiuri, Gilchrest’s staff director.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Baltimore Democrat, spent the least of the eight Marylanders overall. He spent $181,659 through Oct. 16. That amounts to $1.64 for each of the 110,473 voters in the 7th District who went for him.
Cummings beat Republican Kenneth Kondner, a dental technician from Woodlawn, with 83 percent of the vote.
In Maryland’s other five House races:
* Rep. Robert Ehrlich, R-Timonium, spent $4.66 for each of the 137,746 2nd District votes he received. His total spending through Oct. 16 was $642,346.
* Rep. Benjamin Cardin, D-Baltimore, spent $4.06 for each of the 123,237 3rd District votes he received. He spent $500,853.
* Rep. Constance Morella, R-Bethesda, spent $2.04 for each of the 144,125 8th District votes she received. She spent $293,499.
* Rep. Albert Wynn, D-Largo, spent $1.99 for each of the 137,100 4th District votes he received. He spent $272,964. * Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Frederick, spent $1.57 for each of the 127,415 6th District votes he received. He spent $200,167. -30-