Texas Gov. George W. Bush raised $600,000 in individual campaign contributions in Maryland from April to June, almost twice as much as Democratic Vice President Al Gore raised in the state during the same period.
The surge put Bush, a Republican, on pace with Gore for fund raising in heavily Democratic Maryland, with a total of $690,000 as of June 30 to Gore’s $758,686. The data came from Federal Election Commission records provided by FECInfo, a non- partisan federal campaign funding project organized by Public Disclosure Inc.
Those totals do not include a recent Baltimore fund raiser for Bush that raised almost $450,000, with most of the funds coming from individuals, said Maryland Republican Party Executive Director Paul Ellington.
It is a sharp change from the first three months of the year, when Gore reported raising more than $400,000 in Maryland to about $90,000 for Bush.
The Maryland numbers reflect a national trend in the campaigns of the two presidential front-runners. Bush accumulated $17 million nationally in June alone, bringing his national total to $37.2 million, while Gore raised $4.2 million in June to bring his campaign total to $19.5 million. Those totals include individual as well as political action committee donations.
John Pitney Jr., a government professor at Claremont McKenna College in California, said he was not surprised by the Maryland numbers. While voter registration in the state is nearly 2-1 Democratic, the number of wealthy Republicans and Democrats in Maryland are almost equal, he said.
“When it comes to campaign finance, what matters is not the partisanship of the whole electorate, but the partisanship of the affluent voters who write the checks. And in Maryland, the affluent are evenly split,” he said.
Pitney cited a 1996 Voter News Service exit poll that showed Maryland voters with incomes between $75,000 and $100,000 voted 49 percent for Democrat Bill Clinton and 46 percent for the GOP’s Bob Dole. Among those making over $100,000, the split was essentially the same, he said.
Gore’s Democratic challenger, former U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley of New Jersey, kept pace with the vice president in Maryland in the latest fund-raising period. Bradley has collected a total of about $350,00 from Maryland donors, up from $57,050 raised in the first three months.
Other presidential hopefuls have only raised about $135,000 combined in Maryland. Former GOP Transportation Secretary Elizabeth Dole reported $52,050 in Maryland donations; Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has $46,878 from the state; former Republican Vice President Dan Quayle has $25,858; and former Reagan White House adviser Gary Bauer reported $10,486.
Sen. Bob Smith, I-N.H., and Republicans Lamar Alexander, Patrick Buchanan and Steve Forbes did not file campaign finance data with the FEC this quarter.
Ronald Walters, a government and politics professor at the University of Maryland at College Park, said the fact that Bradley and Bush have raised so much money so close to the nation’s capital suggests Marylanders are tired of “impeachment politics” and is a “statement that a lot of people are looking for alternatives.”
“Gore simply does not turn people on and he is not charismatic,” Walters said of the lull in the vice president’s fund raising.
Ellington, of the Maryland GOP, called Gore’s fund raising and campaign activity in the state “flat.” Gore is “taking Maryland for granted,” and “misreading the tea leaves,” while Bush is gaining strength in the state, he said.
But a spokesman for Gore 2000 said the vice president’s campaign is not threatened by the latest fund-raising numbers. It is no surprise that Bush has raised more money than Gore because “Republicans are always going to have more money than Democrats,” said Roger Salazar, the spokesman.
“But a presidential campaign is not about money. It’s about the candidate’s vision and ideas for the future,” he said.
Democrats in Maryland know what Gore represents and will show him their “overwhelming support,” he said.
Salazar said Gore 2000 expects to add $400,000 from a fund raiser that was held July 28 at the Port Discovery Children’s Museum in Baltimore.