WASHINGTON – For the second quarter in a row, Republican presidential hopeful George W. Bush has raised more money in heavily Democratic Maryland than either of the top Democrats.
The Texas governor raised about $403,000 in the state between July 1 and Sept. 30, according to campaign finance reports that were due Friday.
Democratic Vice President Al Gore raised about $312,000 in Maryland in the same period while his leading challenger, former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley, raised about $201,000.
“George Bush’s brand of conservatism, compassionate conservatism, sells in Maryland,” said Paul Ellington, executive director of the Maryland Republican Party. “I think he has struck a chord with the citizens of this state.”
But the managing director of Mason-Dixon Polling and Research Inc., an independent polling firm in Maryland, said the contributions do not necessarily reflect voters’ opinions.
“There are a lot of people that live in Maryland that are really Washington animals,” said Brad Coker, the pollster. “They’re people who aren’t registered to vote in Maryland, they just live here because they live in Washington suburbs.”
Coker did credit Republicans for their effective campaigning. “They’ve really refined their fund-raising machine,” he said.
The fund-raising reports for the third quarter had to be filed Friday with the Federal Election Commission. Gore and Bradley both filed electronically with the FEC, and the data were immediately available from the agency.
Bush, who opted not to apply for federal matching funds, was not required to file electronically with the FEC. He posted the data on his campaign website, however, and it was downloaded and compiled by FECInfo, a non-partisan site that analyzes campaign finances.
Nationwide, fund raising by the candidates mirrored their Maryland performances. The figures for all candidates measure individual donations and do not include political action committee contributions.
Bush was far ahead of any other candidate, raising almost $20 million in the quarter. Among other Republicans, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., raised about $62,000 in Maryland and $3.1 million nationally. Former Transportation Secretary Elizabeth Dole raised $12,000 in the state and $1.3 million across the country. Millionaire publisher Steve Forbes did not file a report electronically and his data were not immediately available.
Gore and Bradley were in a virtual dead heat nationally, with Bradley raising $7.4 million to Gore’s $7.3 million.
Maryland Democratic Party Chairman Peter Krauser dismissed Bush’s fund-raising advantage.
“Obviously Bush is already their anointed one. And, therefore, money is not going to be an issue with him,” he said.
“The Bush campaign has been issue-free so far,” said Krauser, who called compassionate conservatism “two incompatible terms.”
“About the best you can say about Bush is that, in a lean year, he is an adequate governor,” Krauser said.
Ellington said the tight Democratic race is an advantage for Bush because it “forces Gore to focus on Bradley, instead of Bush.”
But Coker said the primary could work to the Democrats’ advantage, because the nominee may emerge even better prepared for the general election.
“I tend to think that competition is healthy,” he said. “In the long run, it won’t be harmful to whoever eventually does win the nomination.”