WASHINGTON – Vice President Al Gore collected the most money from Marylanders last year with $1,313,305 in individual contributions, edging out Texas Gov. George Bush’s fund raising in the state.
Bush, a Republican who led all presidential candidates in fund raising in Maryland in the first half of the year, ended 1999 with a total of $1,248,018 from the state, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Numbers from 2000 are not yet available.
Carol Arscott of Gonzales/Arscott Research, an independent polling firm, said it is not surprising that Gore, a Democrat, has jumped to the front of the fund-raising race in Maryland.
“Democrats outnumber Republicans in Maryland two to one,” Arscott said. “They lead the state and win statewide elections.”
While Gore leads statewide in fund raising, Bush has raised more in all the metropolitan areas outside Washington, including the Baltimore, Cumberland, Hagerstown and Salisbury regions.
Arscott said that even with Maryland’s preference for Democrats, Bush’s strong showing is also natural.
“Republican presidential candidates always do well [fund raising] in Maryland,” she said. “They tend to take a lot out but not give a lot back.”
Of the three other candidates still in the race, former New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bill Bradley raked in the most from Maryland, with $740,594, followed by Sen. John McCain. R-Ariz., with $263,760.
Republican Alan Keyes, a Maryland resident, came in last at $10,055. Keyes spokesman George Cecala said Keyes has not concentrated heavily on campaigning in Maryland but did not rule out an official visit before the March 7 primary.
Bradley and Gore are the only two candidates to actively campaign in Maryland so far. Bradley spoke at the University of Maryland College Park on Feb. 4 while Gore appeared at an event in Baltimore last week.
Neither Bush nor McCain have scheduled campaign events in Maryland.
Arscott said that while Republicans can generally afford to write off Maryland, Democrats typically have to spend more in the state rallying the party’s troops for the general election in November. She pointed out that the state has always voted Democratic in the presidential election except for 1984 and 1988, when Republicans won the White House.
“Maryland is gravy for Republicans,” she said. “But for Democrats it could be key.”
Center for Responsive Politics spokesman Larry Makinson said McCain’s victory in the New Hampshire primary and recent surge in the polls could boost his totals in Maryland when new campaign finance reports come out.
“Bush was able to raise a lot of money right away because of his image of inevitability,” Makinson said. “But when somebody [like McCain] wins a primary unexpectedly, donations can come in as early as the next day.”