WASHINGTON – Maryland congressional candidates raised $344,143 from Oct. 15-29, most of which went to incumbents with hefty campaign war chests who were already heavily favored to win re-election.
The last-minute funds — an average of $16,615 per day — may not represent all of the money raised by the candidates during that period. They are only required to report donations of $1,000 or more to the Federal Election Commission from Oct. 15 to Election Day.
But campaign officials defend the continuous fund-raising, saying the cash is necessary to run serious campaigns.
“We are running a full-fledged campaign, and using our contributions for our grass-roots efforts,” said Chris Parandain, campaign coordinator for 2nd District Rep. Robert Ehrlich, R- Timonium.
Ehrlich has raised $22,500 since Oct. 15 for his race against Kenneth Bosley, a political unknown who has not raised enough to have to file with the FEC.
Rep. Albert Wynn, D-Largo, has reported raising $22,000; Rep. Benjamin Cardin, D-Baltimore, has raised $28,668; and Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Baltimore, has raised $14,000 in the same period.
None of their lightly regarded opponents have reported any contributions since Oct. 15.
“Incumbents are far out-raising challengers across the board,” said Scott Olsen, director of campaign finance information at Common Cause, a non-partisan advocacy group for campaign finance reform.
Incumbents get about nine times as much money from political action committees as challengers because they are “well-known to special interests” and are considered safe bets, Olsen said.
Fifth District Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Mitchellville, led Maryland’s congressional candidates during the period, raising $73,375 since Oct. 15.
Unlike many other members of the delegation, however, Hoyer is facing a Republican challenger, Bob Ostrom, who has raised $20,300 himself during the period. Hoyer is “enjoying the largess of being a 17-year incumbent,” said Ostrom campaign spokesman Matt Johnston of the incumbent’s fund-raising advantage.
Last-minute fund-raising by Ostrom and Hoyer is matched only by the candidates in the 8th District, widely regarded as the most competitive campaign in the state.
From Oct. 15-29, Rep. Constance Morella, R-Bethesda, reported raising $55,000 and her Democratic challenger, Ralph Neas, reported pulling in $37,000 in large contributions.
Aides for both candidates say that fund raising is a normal part of running for office.
Morella’s campaign aides said the money that is now coming in was solicited some time ago, in pitches that have since ended. They are turning all their efforts now to campaigning, they said.
“Actually this is a time when we have done all of our fund raising, this is the result,” said Bill Kendall, Morella’s campaign manager.
Neas’ aides said their high-profile, well-funded campaign has helped draw attention and brought in contributions.
“People that have contributed see that we have a chance to win, certainly it helps to have [contributions],” said Phil Evans, manager of Neas’ campaign.
He said Neas has to compete with Morella’s incumbency and her edge in PAC money.
“Close to half if not more than half for Morella comes from PACs,” said Evans, who said that 80 percent of Neas’ contributions are from individuals.
According to www.tray.com, a non-partisan web site that tracks FEC filings, only 39.7 percent of Morella’s money comes from PACS. It said that 81.7 percent of Neas’ funding is from individuals.
In other Maryland races, 1st District Democratic challenger Irving Pinder has raised $3,000 in large contributions since Oct. 15, compared to $2,000 raised by the incumbent, Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest R-Kennedyville.
Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Frederick, has not reported any large contributions since Oct. 15. His Democratic challenger in the 6th District, Tim McCown, has not reported any fund raising to the FEC at all in this election.
Candidates are required to report contributions of $1,000 or more with the FEC within 48 hours once the quarterly deadline for complete filing has passed. The last major filing was on Oct. 15.
Candidates must file complete campaign financing information for the election with the FEC on Dec. 3.